The Truth About Our Economy – A View of the Future of Sandpoint and the Inland NW’s Economic Outlook

April 22nd, 2022 by admin Leave a reply »

Recently, I attended a lecture by Anthony Grasst, a very astute MBA who runs a mortgage division of MetLife. It was gratifying to hear words of wisdom that offered another view of our economy besides the doom and gloom one hears on the radio waves or sees on the tube.

Graast explained that the job losses after the dot.com boom/bust and 9/11 was, if not worse than we are having now, at least comparable.

According to E-commerce News, 2001 went into the record books as the most devastating year in terms of Internet jobs lost.

In an article released in 2002, “For the year (2001), 100,925 positions were cut — about 250 percent higher than the 41,515 cut during all of 2000, when the dot-com shakeout began in earnest.”

Figures were much higher than that according to ComputerWorld.com, spanning many sectors and totaling over 2 million job cuts for 2001.

True numbers are often fleeting. Certainly hundreds of thousands lost jobs from the dot.com debacle, and probably millions. Post 9/11 job losses were also staggering. Our current recession passed that benchmark for total job losses in November 2008. Still, many forget we had these two recent large downturns in employment: the dot.com bust and 9/11. We recovered.

There is no doubt we experienced a double whammy. As our national economy began to recover from the dot.com bubble burst, 9/11 sent us right back down the tube. Yet we recovered.

In fact, the financial losses from these two events may have been even worse than our current crisis, with many experiencing greater losses because the stock market affected more real wealth in much greater fashion than today.

According to Wikipedia: “Several communication companies, burdened with unredeemable debts from their expansion projects, sold their assets for cash or filed for bankruptcy. WorldCom, the largest of these, was found to have used illegal accounting practices to overstate its profits by billions of dollars. The company’s stock crashed when these irregularities were revealed, and within days it filed the second largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history. Other examples include NorthPoint Communications, Global Crossing, JDS Uniphase, XO Communications, and Covad Communications. Demand for the new high-speed infrastructure never materialized, and it became dark fiber, impacting companies such as Nortel, Cisco and Corning, whose stock plunged from a high of $113 to a low of $1.” It wasn’t only internet and tech related companies that caused national financial pain. Who can forget Enron?

The financial losses from 9/11, hurricanes Gustav and Katrina, and other disasters during the Bush administration, as well as the true costs of the war in Iraq, have some comparisons to our dismal condition today. While the press appropriately covered these disasters, the overplay and total consuming coverage of today’s crisis makes those pale in comparison.

For those trying to buy homes, money is tight. However, according to Grasst, liquidity is changing. True liquidity right now is not as tight as the press would have you believe. Stated Grasst, “The money supply has increased by 20% over the last few months, but takes 6-9 months to show in the market.”
The message Grasst related in his lecture was that financing is available; you just have to have a job, pay your bills, and you can’t lie. What a concept. Other sources of money have become available from companies like MetLife, which came into the credit and mortgage business in 2007, after all the bad loans had already been made. Other revamped sources are the loans from the USDA that has revised its rules, making their loans a great alternative. Most local and Inland Northwest banks for the most part did not make the kind of questionable loans that put other banks in jeopardy, according to Jack Dyck V.P. and Regional Sales Manager for Mountain West Bank in Sandpoint.

Our problem, it seems, is that we have become a society that expects instant gratification; we demand results that occur instantaneously. The Great Depression lasted at least six years, from 1931 to 1937. While one can argue that the stock market is responding to President Obama’s policies and actions, only those born yesterday would not reason that these problems and issues were years in the making. How sad we as adults and intelligent Americans, so educated to instant gratification, now believe that in just sixty days in office, one man can fix what we as a nation took years to bring to fruition.

Grasst pointed out that according to the press, our banks and financial institutions are broken, much like the Great Depression. The Great Depression had four years of banks going broke. We have had one. The stock market lost 90% of its value during the Great Depression. Currently our losses are at 40-50%. In both cases, stocks were extremely overvalued. Remember when the stock market first broke 7,000, then 10,000. As a younger investor fresh out of business school, I didn’t think I would ever see 10,000. After all, the market had hovered between 500 and 1,000 from the late 1950s to the mid 1980s. Then, for ten years it was between 2,000 and 3,500. The remarkable run up to 14,000 points took place in a little over ten short years. (See this historical chart) One could say the same happened to home values. Too much, too fast? This is the opinion of many economists.

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