The idea of the global marketplace looks great on paper—all the risk of the world is spread all over, reducing the exposure of individuals. And at what cost? The rewards are shared as well, of course. The problems arise when the inequities in the market throw the whole shindig out of balance and the participants act against obvious economic forces, such as currency exchange rates, because they have “a bad feeling.” Ah, leave it to humanity to create a system that doesn’t take the human condition into account.
“When it comes to Europe, whether it’s the UK or anywhere in western Europe we haven’t hardly seen much activity on anything,” says John Jacobi, yacht broker with Kardinal Marine. “We’ve run across one or two UK buyers in the last year and that’s really it out of europe. Even with the whole euro-to-U.S.-dollar exchange, even though it’d be in their favor, they’re just not here, from what we’ve seen.” Buyers in Europe seemingly cannot overcome the bad feeling they have about the economies of their home countries.
The segment dealing in large boats, say over 100 feet, seems to be trying to move forward. “It’s going to be an interesting summer season over there,” Jacobi says. “Of our larger motoryacht customers, more people are going over [to Europe] this year than last year and the year before. So we’re looking forward to seeing how everyone’s charter books do, and how active they are over there.”
And as we’ve heard in some high-profile cases over the last year, European countries levy large taxes on their wealthiest individuals. “There’s also the whole VAT thing on the larger boats for charter over there for different countries,” Jacobi says. “But for smaller boats down to the 40-foot size my crystal ball is pretty cloudy, I don’t see it getting better.”
But if there is a silver lining here, it’s this: “The biggest concept for this year that I can see is the American is back,” Jacobi says. “The American buyer has not been really in the picture in the last few years. But they’re back—Americans are the ones spending money and that’s where most of the deals are.” In the global market, it’s the Americans, those who generally pulled back and worked to get the economy back on track, that are back in the driver’s seat. And that may be good for a whole world of boat buyers and sellers.