Magazine

The Economic Fallout May Not Be So Heavy


Everyone is revolted by the terrorists' act of barbarism and their disregard for human life ("Terror in America," Special Report, Sept. 24). However, to say that the events spell economic catastrophe seems totally unbalanced and defies the historical evidence. I am certainly not condoning the disaster (or war), but I believe that there is compelling evidence that the longer-term effect of such events in the past has been positive rather than negative for our economy.

Pearl Harbor and World War II propelled this nation out of the Depression. Hurricane Andrew (of which I have personal knowledge) caused rebuilding and the resultant spending drove the economy. The U.S. (and the world) needs encouragement. You should see that as your editorial responsibility as well as your civic duty in this time of national tragedy.

Thomas L. Burnett

Boca Raton, Fla.

The whole series of articles on this national tragedy was slanted toward predicting the devastation of the economy. Let's hope that the courage and determination of the American people proves this wrong. The country and the President need and deserve all our support and commitment. President George W. Bush is doing a superb job and has a strong and experienced staff to get us through this difficult time. The economy has been supported by an outpouring of funds from the government, the Federal Reserve, private corporations, and proud American investors.

Shirley Hart

Adams, Mass.

This is the time--perhaps the most important time in recent U.S. history--for the nation to unite in support of our leader. The President is trying to pick up the pieces from the Clinton Administration's inability to fight off terrorism and provide a safe haven for the American people. Thank God we have a leader who is fully dedicated to increasing the budget and power of our national defense.

Erin Grecu

Columbus, Ohio One historian quoted in "Terror in America" (Special Report, Sept. 24) says: "It will shake the way Americans think about their place in the world." Maybe it has escaped the average American and President George W. Bush lately, but America has always been looked at as the leader to follow, especially by the populations (if not their leaders) of Third World countries aspiring to mimic the American way of life and the freedom and democracy that come with it. Whenever the U.S. tends toward isolationism, those who look to her as a model feel betrayed.

Those who think that this is a religious war are mistaken. Muslims pray to the same God as Christians and Jews. Suicide is banned by Islam: Indeed, if a Muslim commits suicide he is not even entitled to a prayer on his tomb. Jihad is a defensive act, not an offensive one, and has nothing to do with killing innocents. Unfortunately, history is filled with politicians hijacking religion to enhance their own agenda. Those who do recruit desperate people living in a den of misery. The U.S. must tackle the roots of the desperation that leads people to commit such desperate and reprehensible acts.

Ali Nsouli

Geneva We cannot neglect that the resources that funded this affront to civilization came from the wealth created by the West's dependence of Middle Eastern oil. The "War on Terrorism" must include the financing of a new "Manhattan Project" with the aim of developing alternative energy sources as a matter of national security. This project should enlist the best minds of our country and our allies for a feverish, tireless quest to develop plentiful, safe, and economical fuel resources that will replace our dependence upon foreign oil and our subsequent funding of anti-American interests.

David E. Newberger

Des Plaines, Ill. I have long thought there are too many airports and short flights ("How much heavier can the baggage get?" Special Report, Sept. 24). Before any money is sent out, the feds should work on an integrated transportation system that leaves flights to the true long haul.

Wolfgang Sailler

Salem, Ore. "An empire trembles" (People, Sept. 10) about the Pritzker family businesses, characterizes Marmon Group as an "almost arbitrary collection of businesses." When my brother Jay and I went into business together in 1953, we didn't use our family's capital. We pursued various opportunities, many of which turned out quite well for us. Our growth, through internal expansion and acquisitions, has been such that our companies collectively rank first, second, or third in the U.S. or the world in many industries. Diversity should not be mistaken for lack of focus.

In 2000, the Marmon Group member companies achieved sales of nearly $6.8 billion and net earnings of $300 million. If our performance falls short of anyone's expectations, the blame rests entirely with me, not with others in the Pritzker family who were not involved in Marmon Group's management. I'm proud of our record and of the 40,000 employees who continue to build on it worldwide.

Robert A. Pritzker

President and CEO

Marmon Group

Chicago "Broadband baloney" (e.biz, Cutting Edge, Sept. 3) understates the value of an always-on world that consumers experience from a broadband connection. Prodigy Communications LP, a 17-year-old Internet pioneer, sees broadband driving the next evolution of the Internet, as it enables the Net to shift from an entertainment medium to more of a household utility.

We're completely redesigning our software and home page with a broadband focus so that we can give demanding consumers the tools to be active participants with the Internet, not merely passive viewers of videos or pop-up ads.

Paul Roth

President and CEO

Prodigy Communications LP

Austin, Tex. "A housing collapse could wound the banks" (News: Analysis & Commentary, Sept. 3) incorrectly states that a cooling of the housing market would wound the banking industry--because the secondary-mortgage market would require lenders to repurchase defaulted loans.

Since 1981, [Fannie Mae's repurchase policy] has delegated to lenders the determination of whether a loan meets our underwriting guidelines. If we later find that a defaulted loan has an underwriting deficiency, we may ask the lender to repurchase the loan. Lenders have recourse to an independent third-party review committee.

We do not ask lenders to repurchase defaulted loans that met our underwriting standards. In fact, of the 10.5 million mortgage loans that Fannie Mae currently owns or guarantees, we asked lenders to repurchase only 0.01% of those in 2000.

Michael A. Quinn

Senior Vice-President

Fannie Mae

Washington


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