The economy in Europe is said to be reviving because of stimulus projects by European governments. If this is true, the line of austerity advocated by the French and the Germans is more flexible than previously thought. The upshot, of course, is that this will affect the economy in the U.S. in a positive fashion as it will limit the risk of a double recession in Europe. News such as this is welcome if it is true, but I find that economists are constantly revising figures and forecasts. What is true today often does not seem to be true tomorrow.
I was in London last weekend and the imminent arrival of the Olympics has put London, speaking of stimulus projects, on a curve to upgrade their public transportation system, a huge task given that the Underground was designed well over a hundred years ago for a much smaller audience. Anyone who has ever taken the Circle Line knows how crowded it is at rush hour, not just the trains but just accessing the platforms. It should be a pickpockets ball in London this summer. Watch your wallets if you go.
It isn’t the economy or the London Olympics that are my major concern. What does concern me is the supply of great furniture that seems to be dwindling away. A very short time ago, twenty years ago or so, there were close to thirty English furniture auctions in London and New York. Now there are none, just aggregations of European and English furniture, which occur about eight times per year. The diminishment in volume is staggering. Where has it all gone?
Traditional furniture, we have been told, is out of fashion. So why isn’t the market flooded with it? When good pieces come onto the market, they are, for the most part, very pricey. Like the European economy, there doesn’t seem to be an answer to this question. And like the London Underground, the diminished access to inventory means that fewer people will be coming into antique shops. It isn’t quite like a Gordian knot, but like the problems confronting the European economy, or even the London Underground, there is a dimension to it that deeply concerns the antiques trade.