The Hamptons as Wall Street Confidence Indicator

I’m not a typical “Hamptons Guy”, per se, but I’ve definitely spent my fair share of time out there, being both a native Long Islander and a career Wall Streeter for as long as I have – it’s been fairly unavoidable. This weekend I’ll be visiting my dad at his house in Quogue and then hitting a big-time clambake at a beachfront manse in East Hampton. I’m excited for both, I must confess.

Nicholas Colas, chief strategist at ConvergEx in New York, has an entertaining note out this morning using the Hamptons as a barometer for Wall Street confidence…

The Hamptons are, in fact, the most perfect litmus test of New York/Wall Street financial confidence available.  This has been true since the Long Island Rail Road built the Montauk branch in the 1870s.  That development – along with electrification of the line in the 1920s – made the 90 mile trip possible for affluent-but-not-crazy-rich New York families, allowing them to enjoy the longest sand beach on the eastern seaboard just like the Vanderbilts and DuPonts. The Long Island Expressway didn’t make its way to Exit 70/71 until the 1960s; it was a very long drive indeed before that.  Add a few golf courses over the years (Maidstone, Shinnecock and National), one gorgeous lawn tennis club (Meadow), and a posh social registry (the Blue Book) and you have a summer recipe for wealthy New Yorkers that remains unchanged from the 1920s.

On the surface, the upcoming July 4th weekend in the Hamptons has all the earmarks of a very confident New York/Wall Street community and we trot into the back half of 2014. Just a few data points here:

  • The newest and nicest hotel in the Hamptons at the moment is the Topping Rose House, refurbished in 2012 after a long period of disrepair and also substantially expanded. Rooms here during the summer go for $2,000/night and often have a 2-3 night minimum. They are sold out this weekend.
  • Nick & Toni’s may not be the fanciest place in East Hampton, but it has a serious celebrity following.  And this July 4th weekend, you’ll need that status to get a table. They are fully committed from Friday to Sunday during dinner hours.
  • Pierre’s in Bridgehampton has had its ups and downs in terms of service quality over the past few years, but the food has always been like a quick trip to Antibes or Cannes.  They ship their own special rose wine over from France for the summer season – it’s usually all gone by early August.  They have availability for dinner at 5:45 or 6:00 pm, which for many French restaurants is almost lunch hours. So book early, book often, order the blue bottle of rose and wait for the rest of the world to shuffle in at 8pm
  • If you are young and lively, the Capri Hotel in Southampton is your scene.  Last summer the guest restaurant on the property was Nobu.  This year it is BLT Steak.  There is a serious singles scene by the pool. And yes, they are sold out this weekend.  And next weekend.  Mid-August is available for $462.33/night…  Until it isn’t.

So, you get the idea – the transient community has a few bucks to throw around. 

Josh here – My advice to for the young money: Get your Gatsby on, kids. For next summer may not be as carefree and cheery as this one is.


Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at ConvergEx Group, a global brokerage company based in New York.”

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