Recession? What recession?

Is it me? Or does Black Friday seem to get stranger and stranger every year? It's still early and the primary news channels are already reporting unprecedented levels of craziness at many of the major shopping centers across Puerto Rico. Luckily no one has been killed, but a woman in sought in Mayagüez after using pepper spray to obtain an advantage in picking up the best deals at a ToysRus.

At the Best Buy in Hato Rey, store employees will overwhelmed by the amount of traffic who lined up for a Midnight opening of the store. Police were called when a group of customers rushed the doors and chaos erupted (un motin).

Here is a video report of the line waiting to get into the Plaza Las Americas Best Buy:


The video contains a brief narration as the videographer walks down the line which spans over several levels of the parking garage and is estimated to be in the thousands. Take a look and you'll see, that it might actually be a thousand or so people waiting.

Analysis

With almost daily reports of new business closings and bankruptcies, the Puerto Rican economy continues to contract. So it almost seems a contradiction that so many families are capable and willing to stand in line to buy discounted electronics (a Black Friday favorite here as it is in the US).

With no significant strategy to improve our economic growth, one has to wonder how our declining economy will shape society. 2011 is already the bloodiest year ever in Puerto Rico, so what else can we expect? Many unemployed turn to the lucrative black market to make ends meet, but even the black market economy can only withstand so much.

It won't be only citizens scrambling to make ends meet. With less people employed, that means that income tax revenues will decline too. With shrinking budgets, government agencies and non-profits will have to do more with less money to serve a growing number of families struggling to stay stay afloat and out of poverty.

Where will it end? Without a significant coordinated effort to eliminate smuggling and trafficking, the crime on the island will not get any better. To me, this all seems like a volatile recipe for the perfect storm of lawlessness; a very violent, chaotic, and hopeless future for Puerto Rico. I'd like to be wrong about this, but repeating to ourselves that we do it better isn't going to cut it.