The Federal Reserve Chairman and the Secretary of the Treasury said yesterday that the economic outlook was worse than they thought. An announcement that the Federal Reserve would lower the interest rate sent the Dow Industrial average down not up! The congressional committee hearing this testimony said in essence, "how did you miss this?"
All the signs for a downturn in the economy and the eroding of consumer confidence have been around. People are pulling back, afraid for their jobs, seeing local and state government budgets cut. So what do we do? From the community level we ask these questions:
1. Are our local lending institutions and homeowners aware of the supports now available to prevent foreclosure?
2. Are local hospitals prepared for a possible increase in the uninsured?
3. Are shelters and food banks ready for the increased traffic that is likely to come?
4. Are we on top of the situation for our largest employers? Can we soften the blow with local support that might be used to recruit businesses?
If any of those answers are no, there is a place to start Monday--early Monday. Communities cannot fall to the same fate as our national leaders--unaware that times are harder than we thought. That is when we lose and lose big. The way to keep our heads above water is to anticipate and plan. Remember my favorite quote: to make long term gains you must do well when the market is down. Now is the time.
Here are a couple of places that seem to get this message: Tulsa, OK and Conway, AR.
We will keep following these cities and others to determine who is weathering the economy best and why.