I was in Nashville for the recent solar eclipse, square in the path of “totality”. My daughter lives in Nashville, so, eclipse sunglasses in hand, my wife and I drove the 600 miles from Tulsa to Music City on Sunday August 20th . Traffic was stout for a Sunday; the roads were packed for hundreds of miles leading into town, but still orderly.
Later I estimated that 100,000 people migrated to Nashville for the eclipse, joining the 2 million already living there. A few drove in on the Friday before, more on the Saturday, and the majority on Sunday with us. So, 10,000 people on Friday, then 30,000 people, then 60,000 people.
And two hours after the eclipse peaked, all 100,000 of us climbed into our cars and tried to head home, cramming the highways, littering the road with wrecks, and turning our 9 hour drive home into 15.
Here’s my estimate for the entrance and egress of Nashville eclipse visitors over that four day period:
Visitors Entering (and Leaving) Nashville for the Eclipse
To see the eclipse, each of us had our Solar Eclipse Viewing Sunglasses (approved by NASA, of course). Two weeks before the eclipse, these sunglasses were available on Amazon for $2.50. As the eclipse day approached, the price began to rise to the point that, on the day before the eclipse, the price of a pair of NASA approved viewing glasses reached $30 a pair.
Here’s the economic phenomenon we noticed: Two hours before the eclipse peaked, the price of viewing glasses dropped to $0. In fact, people couldn’t give them away. Everybody had one…or two, or three pairs. Glasses were so cheap that people tossed them on the ground unused well before the moon took its first bite out of the sun. I picked up 40 discarded glasses before the eclipse.
Here’s my estimate of eclipse glasses prices in Nashville over time:
Price of Solar Eclipse Sunglasses in Nashville
From staring at stars to the oilfield, we can take a few lessons:
First, when an apparently attractive opportunity presents itself (like an eclipse or a market boom), more and more people will surge toward that opportunity over time. The last guy in will have the hardest time getting in and will pay the highest price.
Second, surging prices (of eclipse viewing glasses or frac jobs) will bring increasing supply/capacity to the market, eventually saturating the market and collapsing prices.
Third, once the opportunity has passed (the eclipse quits eclipsing or drilling slows down), people will stampede for the exit and assets formerly worth a lot will litter the ground, worthless.
After the eclipse, my wife and I picked up perhaps 100 discarded eclipse viewing glasses littering the lawns of Vanderbilt, half were unused. In 2024, during the next total eclipse in the US, we will sell these 100 eclipse viewing glasses (minus two for us) for $30 a pair the day BEFORE the eclipse.
And that is the fourth lesson we’ve learned from the eclipse: There is always another eclipse, and there is always another energy upcycle. The time to get in is when all the others are getting out.