SIGN OF THE TIMES. Repossessed boats sober up boat show visitors.

"I guess it's real simple --it's called the economy," said Kevin McGivern, owner of Rogers Park-based repossession business Equitable Services Incorporated. "A lot of people buy these things when times are good. As long as the cash is coming in, that's fine, but as you know it's come to a screeching halt."

McGivern said boat repossessions for his firm, one of the largest in the Midwest, are up about 300 percent from last year.

"What is amazing is a lot of the big boats we picked up this summer," he said at the McCormick Place show. "Some of these boats never even got in the water because people couldn't pay to get them out of storage."

In The America That Worked, the maxim was "nobody who has to ask how much it costs to keep a yacht has any business owning one." No more.

"That's the problem with America -- this recreational thing," he said. "I was taught it was real simple, if you can't afford to take a vacation, you don't finance it."

A former boat owner's loss can be the prospective boat owner's gain.

"We usually have a used boat display, but it's never been this elaborate," said Matt Munson, vice president and boat salesman at Lakemoor's Munson Ski & Marine, pointing to an enormous display at the boat show of $1.5 million in bank-repossessed boats he is selling.

"People have been all over this," he said.

Munson said his company was selling 28 new boats and as many as 80 used and repossessed boats at the boat show, which ended Sunday.

"We just starting doing it," he said. "We're good family friends with the bank, and the bank doesn't want to be in the boat business."

Imagine that. Bankers discovering that financial skill sets don't generalize to other lines of business. Perhaps the Cult of the MBA will discover the straightforward extension.

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