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It really is all that bad. So what.


After posting a long piece about the grim economic outlook on January 3, I’ve had pangs of regret about the tone of it.

While there aren’t many signs of growth, our basic social and economic institutions are still functioning. Though unemployment rates are high, 9o% of the workforce is employed. The vast majority of people are current on their mortgages and credit cards. Businesses, schools, hospitals and churches are still open.

Most businesses that have been around for five years or more will weather the storm. They’ve weathered others.

Dianne Elizabeth Osis, publisher of the Springfield Business Journal, speaking for her staff, wrote in the January 4 print edition:

We feel the cold draft of a downturn, we endured the sour breath of stagnation, uncertainty and fear, and we breathe in the heady perfume of warm spring breezes sweeping in new customers–or old, more confident customers–well before the new weather fronts move into the Ozarks.

Osis said that the optimism of her statement is based on early results of her publication’s sales, not merely wishful thinking.

The not-so-grim reality is that hard times produce productivity gains and reveal opportunities that get things moving again. Smart businesspeople know that marketing now is very potent and that advertising gets noticed.

Interest rates are low, overhead is lower,  rents have fallen, talented people are looking for work, and competitors have disappeared. Bargains abound. Necessity mothers inventions, and necessity is all around us.

It really is all that bad, but it won’t always stay this bad. The forces that create lift are just as real as gravity. If we can flap our wings and keep moving, we’ll get off the ground eventually.

The bottom of the cycle is a great time to purchase land, houses, equipment, and market share. It’s a good time to hire and an even better time to get hired. Now is a far better time to start a business than when the market is already hot.

People are ingenious, coming up with ways to prosper that would never occur to me. I’ve been lucky enough that some of them make their way into my office.

I’m flabbergasted that they ask me for advice. I try to not to let on.

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About Harry Styron

I'm a lawyer who lives in Branson, Missouri, whose professional interests involve real estate, construction and local government.

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