How bad are things?

As we face what seems to be an unending stream of bad economic news, I notice that the new trend in home improvements is outdoor living spaces.

Folks are upgrading their backyards from grassy patches used for playing catch and slip-n-slide with their kids into open-air living and entertainment spaces equipped with working kitchens, cozy furniture and mood landscaping inspired by pool decks of posh Miami resorts.

Another recent things-can’t-be-that-bad trend was furnishing in-home movie theaters complete with state-of-the-art viewing equipment, rows of leather-clad reclining seats and even theater-style popcorn machines.

These trends also offer a good lesson for effectiveness of “the market”.  Outdoor living spaces and in-home theaters have long been custom luxuries enjoyed by the wealthy.  As the trend has caught on, suppliers have responded by making the furnishings and equipment affordable to folks at all levels of income.