Sunday, February 8, 2009

The economy, job loss, the future

I'm feeling pressure about the economy and I'm not alone, either. These are the three top connections I have:

1. I own a small business. Our daycare has seen a drop in enrollment directly due to job loss of the parents.
2. I sell payroll to small businesses. Since the summer, start-up businesses are way down and existing business clients are expressing price concerns more than ever before.
3. Family members and good friends are really struggling with jobs and bills.

Let me clarify. The pressure I feel isn't fear, it's more like waiting for the impending arrival of a kick-ass thunderstorm. You see the lightning from one end of the horizon to the other and the thunder rolls constantly; and you just know: "This is going to be serious." It's cautiousness, concern, and curiosity.

What will it be like in 6 months? A year from now? How will the landscape be different?

Obama's trying to make a difference with a new TARP bill. I hope it has more impact than the last one where Citi bought naming rights to the Mets ballpark and BOA bought Merrill Lynch and fired people, or where basically every bank in the US came to Capitol Hill with their hand out and got cash. I ASK YOU THIS? Did that ever get to the street? Not that I saw. My clients are still struggling with cash-flow and the banks were tighter than ever.

The new stimulus package that's trying to be passed has some great parts, hybrid vehicles for the government, spending on infrastructure, rebates, and more. It won't be enough. I don't believe that the government can and will do enough to make a dent in the decrepit state of America's economy and job losses.

Click to enlarge this graphic from The Office of The Speaker:

If you think unemployment is out of control based on the above graph wait until you read this piece done by In addition to the "real" unemployment rates, in the 1930's unemployment didn't peak until 4 years after the market crashed. Ohhfa.

So, what's the actionable item here? Hell if I know. I do know that the only thing we have to fear is fear it self.

Maybe this is the forest fire our economy needs to clear out a lot of small problems today and avoid a future "greater depression". Maybe this will cause our government to close the trade deficit gap. Maybe businesses will stop outsourcing jobs to other countries and Americans will stop standing for it. Maybe housing will be more affordable again. Maybe people will respect money more. Maybe Americans will start to save money again. Maybe we won't just put it on credit cards and plan our spending better. Maybe.