Thursday, January 15, 2009

Concern --- Yin Yang

Just 18 months ago there were headlines about banks lending like drunken sailors and the U.S. consumer spending same, drowning in mortgage, credit card, and student loan debt. With that overlay now we have headlines bemoaning the fact that banks have become more conservative, are lending only to credit-worthy borrowers, and are building their capital positons. Now we have distressed headlines that say consumers are now starting to save, they are more prudent in their purchases, and less likely to buy a $4 latte. How could this be viewed as a good turn of events?

It can be seen as a normal turn in the economy, more harsh than most of us have ever seen but healthy. There is a troubling aspect to this. Instead of a revolution in our economy, we are getting an evolution of our economy. Corporations are eliminating matching 401K contributions, eliminating matching gift contributions, cutting health benefits by raising the employee's contribution and trimming retirement benefits. Instead of dealing with core issues, we are in such a radically bad and swift turn in the economy that thoughtful change is hardly possible. These trim around the edges solutions are no solution and long term they are just a continuation of the demise of worker earned entitlement, emphasis on the word "earned".


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