Published: November 26, 2019

Wishing you the extravagance of the season

An analyst buddy of mine was convinced the market could be predicted with some sort of alchemy involving the Baltic Dry Shipping Index, the front-month NYMEX lumber contract and, if I recall correctly, either unit case volume at Coca-Cola or the AP’s preseason NCAA basketball rankings.

Memory fails.

In any case, Corporate America loves to track things. You name it, someone counts it. One of my favorite indicators is the Cost of Living Extremely Well Index, published each year by Forbes. It tracks the price of the 40 items most essential to the (Very) Good life, including a new Rolls, a dozen tailored shirts, a fancy shotgun and a pair of horsebit loafers.

For those of you keeping score at home, prices on this chichi shopping cart rose 3.5% in 2019 from the year before, or about twice the rate of growth in the Consumer Price Index during the same period.

Driving the index higher: The average cost of a thoroughbred at Keeneland’s annual September sale in Kentucky was up 29.7%, to $471,959. The price of a Vuitton overnight bag, on the other arm, actually fell a smidgen (though still about $1,800). A Russian sable, at $225,000, was flat.

What can be said of such extravagance?

To me, it says — resoundingly — Merry Christmas.

This month, we’ve put together a special, expanded edition of our “Spending It” feature called “Business Journal Holiday Gift Guide.” We’ve curated four pages of decidedly extravagant holiday gifts.

Let me be clear about the point.

It’s marginally interesting, I suppose, that the storied linen manufacturer Frette makes a cashmere robe that costs, astonishingly, nearly $3,000. Can you imagine? Perhaps I live a sheltered and naive little life, but in my head three grand is about 100 times what a robe oughta cost. The fact that such a product exists — to say nothing of the fact that people line up to buy them — is nothing short of mind-blowing.

But that robe made me think of someone. Take a look at Page 24, which is our collection of gifts for men. Page 32 has a few ideas for ladies. We added some yummy stuff, page 30 and some handsome additions to any home, page 28. It’s my hope that these gifts will put you in a thoughtful mood, that these items will bring to mind loved ones and dear friends.

Certainly we’re all busy this time of year. But I hope amid your occupation and obligations you’ll be come upon a free moment to reach out to someone and tell them you were thinking of them, if only because you know they’d be really pleased with a bag of Bazzini pistachios. Take advantage of the chance to catch up, to show care and concern, to share joy as well as sadness.

And if they’d enjoy the robe, the Cartier cuff or the snazzy silver belt buckle — I hope you’ll splurge.