Recovery is just around the corner … or not

Tue, Jan 5, 2010


There’s a saying among sailors that ‘you sail in the wind that you’ve got.’

That means that you neither anticipate the future nor live in the past, but pay attention to present realities.

So how about the economy? How ‘bout all those leading indicators – employment, GDP growth and consumer confidence, which show a recovering economy? And let’s not forget the booming stock market, up nearly 40 percent from its March low. Happy days are here again, right?

I don’t think so.

As Bob Dylan put it, you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing.

Historically, our city’s economy has had four important components.

1. Military spending.
2. Military spending.
3. Real estate.
4. Everything else.

For the moment, the military sector is doing a good job of propping up the economy. So all we have to do is sit tight and wait for the return of the Glory Days of yore, when homebuilders pulled 5,000 houses out of the ground annually, and high-tech grandees such as Intel built billion-dollar factories, and city sales tax collections soared and … what??!!

You mean the good times aren’t coming back?

I sure hope that they will – but why should they? As UCCS economist Fred Crowley pointed out nearly a month ago in the Quarterly Updates and Estimates prepared by the Southern Colorado Economic Forum, per capita sales tax collections within the city during 2009 “will probably be down at least 25 percent compared to 1999.”

Crowley attributes this slow-moving catastrophe to the flight of big-box retailers to the county, to Internet purchases, to the loss of high-paying jobs since 2001, and to the current recession. He suggests that the city respond by “redevelopment of blighted areas, infilling, revitalization, and a more diversified economic base.”

That’s fine – but the city is broke and getting broker, voters are in no mood to cough up the dough to fund revitalization/redevelopment and the highest-paying jobs around are those being offered to would-be employees at the new Kohl’s.

We’re stuck in neutral – and unless we want to start accelerating backward, we’d better hope that the world remains a nasty, dangerous place. World peace? Bah, humbug!

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Like it'll matter ..... Says:

    >> but the city is broke and getting broker, voters are in no mood to cough up the dough to fund revitalization/redevelopment

    …… an no tenant is willing to pay enough rent to enable the private sector to do the redevelopment.

  2. Rick Wehner Says:

    Actually, I think in spite of all the combined effort of the Chamber and the EDC – there has been no move to this being a manufacturing center, an industrial area, a distribution hub or a major research center.

    Which brings us back to being just a little one-horse town with the one horse being tourism and the hay that feeds the horse in winter is the military.

    Throw in the wives of retired military peddling real estate, a large gaggle of lawyers and a bunch of burger flippers and that is it. One horse town.

    Oh. And the ‘Leadership Groups’. Lots of those.
    Cranking out visionless leaders all wanting to drive the one horse.

    Kind of like “all hat and no cattle”.