Good morning and welcome to 2019! I pray that you’re not working today, that your hangover is at least manageable, and that you’re enjoying the comforts of modern civilization while we still have them. We’re marking the new year by journeying back to a slightly darker time, and seeing what we can do to prepare if those dark times come back.
This year is a notable one for us at Jalopnik. As we launched in the fall of 2004, it marks our 15th birthday. That’s forever on the internet, an inherently ephemeral place where digital publications and platforms rise and fall all the time.
Over drinks last week, a few staffers and I were reminiscing how the site truly came into its own in the lead-up to and during the Great Recession—how the everyperson, run-what-ya-brung ethos of Jalopnik was deeply informed, deliberately or otherwise, by how broke everyone was in the 2000s. Its coverage of everything from crapcan racing to the automaker bankruptcies and bailouts to Cash for Clunkers helped make the operation what it is today, something that’s notable and different in the automotive landscape.
But I have bad news for you all as we cruise into 2019: Things aren’t looking so great out there right now! New car sales are way down after years of unfettered growth. The all-important Chinese market is slowing down too. The stock market’s been getting its ass kicked lately and credit markets seem likely to tighten as well. If the tech bubble is going to burst, it’s probably going to burst this year. And the guy at the top seems dead set on trade wars.
This isn’t to say we’re staring down the barrel of another Great Recession—things may not be that bad—but there’s little reason to be optimistic about 2019. (Could we be wrong about all of this? I sure hope we are! I lived through that once and I don’t really care to do it again.)
But car culture finds a way through the bad times. Maybe that means downgrading your hulking Lexus SUV to a stick shift compact that’s surprisingly more fun to drive, or running a beater car on a tight budget in Lemons or ChumpCar, or striving to keep your beloved ride on the road as long as possible.
All of this is a long-winded way of saying today is Recession Jalopnik: A day of posts where we revisit and modernize the news, the spirit and the character of the last big downturn. And hey, we may even learn some stuff to get ready for the next one.
So dig some loose change out of your couch and fire up your Pontiac Grand Prix, it’s time to party like it’s 2009! Where else would you want to be, besides literally anywhere else?