Posted by: Greg T. Spielberg on August 14
We’re almost two years deep into the recession. The worst economic downturn since the 1930s. More than 14 million unemployed. Trillions in market equity evaporated. Insecurity about our position in the global economy. Doubts about innovation. IT security. Education. Insurance. Manufacturing. Energy. Wall Street. Government. Whew.
With all the elements that go into growing an economy or a business, there’s a lot of information to digest. As we are seeing from the health care town halls, what we take from that information doesn’t always align smoothly with the opinion of our friends, family or colleagues. Friction causes heat and that’s OK. Americans have expressed an ample dose of skepticism since George Washington signed on for a second term and spurred some citizens to shout: “Monarch!”
As it was with Washington in ’93, the future of America’s economy is up for debate in ’09. BusinessWeek’s community is as good a place as any to delve into the disparate thoughts on where our economy is headed. There are the pessimists — Sue writes, “So much for democracy. Bye bye middle class.” There are the skeptics — Dougalmac predicts “the fiscal future of the country looks questionable at best.” There are the conspiracy theorists — More Koolaid From The U.S. Labor Department (what a perfect blend of form/function) writes, “This is going to be just like 1984! The worse it gets, the more the government and the media will make you believe things have improved.”
That’s a bold claim, especially in light of a nascent housing rebound, slowing job losses, increased consumption and renewed, if spotty, employer confidence. But, for Koolaid and others tired of hearing only from the media, HERE’S A SLIDE SHOW with 13 entrepreneurs and business owners from across the country that might make you think things are improving. To contribute your own thoughts — positive, negative, lagging, leading — comment below. You can also check out what business leaders have to say.
FROM JUNE 29
What Signs Tell You The May Be a Recovery?
The BusinessWeek/YouGov Optimism Index kicked up dust last week, heading north to an all-time high of 44%. Americans might not be giddy about the economy – the index is out of 100 – but they are looking up. Three percent more YouGov respondents say the economy is getting better and market speculators seem to agree. The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, or VIX, is at less than 30, suggesting an even-keeled market for July.
As helpful as indexes and surveys can be, the most telling view of our economy is built via anecdotes from the ground. For our August double issue, BusinessWeek is putting together a slide show comprised of indicators from everyday life. Then, we’ll select the six most prescient observations to feature in the magazine. Some readers have already tipped off the community to streaks of light in the recession; we’re looking for more. Tell us if the commuter parking lot is filling up again, or if your downtown has a bit more bustle. Where do you see growth, increased traffic, future profits and competitive advantages? What is the media missing that you feel is a tell-tale sign for optimism?
BusinessWeek’s Joe Weber, Patricia O'Connell, Michelle Conlin, Frederik Balfour, Peter Coy, Greg Spielberg and Roger Crockett examine The Case for Optimism by looking past the financial turmoil and economic unrest gripping the globe to focus on the promising future that lies on the other side of this storm. We’ll chronicle the forward thinkers investing in R&D, launching promising new products, entering new markets, or implementing management and leadership.
See why BusinessWeek Editor-In-Chief Stephen J. Adler is optimistic about the economy amid the sharpest downturn since the Great Depression.