If it isn’t Wall Street or Main Street, it must be a Side Street

What is going on with the economy? Don’t try to answer. That was a rhetorical question. I have to admit that I follow this stuff closely. I’m practically addicted to the numbers. I have to be. My decision-making as CEO of Horst Engineering requires that I be well-informed. Truthfully, whether you are a CEO or not, you should pay attention to issues that impact our global economy. I follow the local, state, national, and international news in an effort to gather as much information (intelligence and knowledge) as I can.

At times, I’m overwhelmed. There is so much information out there and it has become a cliche to state that information is traveling faster than ever. There is no shame in admitting that one cannot keep up with the depth and breadth of information that floats through the air. It is also important to remind oneself that just because it is news, doesn’t mean it is fact. Regardless, there is a lot going on right now. This massive stimulus plan has created a bad situation. The fact that the equity markets (public equity markets) have roared back makes the situation even worse.

Dow 10,000 masks the true problems. We all pay too much attention to the fortunes of the largest companies on this Earth. Fortune 500, S&P 500, Forbes list, NYSE, NASDAQ, FTSE, DAX–whatever the list is, this isn’t reality. Reality is that the vast majority of businesses are still small businesses. Small businesses employ most US workers. They are the ones that create value. I was reading about the top global brands in BusinessWeek, and I wanted to vomit. Sure, I cheer on the stock market rally when my mutual funds loaded up with GE, Coke, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, Google, Microsoft, and Apple rise. I also want our customers, many are on these lists, to succeed so that we can succeed.

But, that isn’t reality. How come Horst Engineering’s value hasn’t shot up 50%+ in the past six months? We seem to still be struggling with the real problems that are squelching growth and job creation. We continue to invest in our enterprise, but there are major disincentives to hiring. The cost of doing business (especially in manufacturing) are horrendous and the government continues to put up road blocks. The next road block is even higher health care costs.

In Connecticut, this is particularly bad at the state level. Rather than lowering costs for businesses, the state is driving our costs through higher taxes, fees, and mandates. This will not encourage growth. Certain things, like environmental regulations, crime, and homelessness, need to be legislated and governed, but government should allow the free market to work. This is particularly important for small businesses. Unfortunately, we get lumped in with ALL businesses. This is not good.

This whole Wall Street vs. Main Street debate is hilarious. I actually joke that Horst Engineering is on a Side Street. We stay out of the fray by keeping our nose to the grindstone and focusing on what we can control. Most successful businesses are off the radar. They go about their business and contribute real value to our society. You have to believe that most business leaders are altruistic. The greedy crooks may garner all of the headlines, but they are not representative of the true work ethic that makes our economy strong, even in recession.

It was ironic that Jeff Skilling, the former CEO of Enron, made headlines last week. He is seeking a re-trial. He is locked up for a long time, but he has peers who have been just as greedy and crooked, who are walking the streets. Heck, many are still leading the firms that are seemingly so important to our country and our economy. His decision-making hurt a lot of people, but it isn’t fair that others have been treated differently.

The real problem is that our bureaucratic politicians, our two-party system, and our massive government spending need reform. That last statement is vague, broad, and not meant to offer any solutions. I’m simply stating that as an example, government financed projects that result in more asphalt (an oil product) being laid down on roads, isn’t going to strengthen our economy for the long-term. I’m afraid that we are headed in the wrong direction, and I’m not alone. We need leadership and debate at every level of government. It is painful to think that we may be stuck in a position where no real good can occur. With the cyclical nature of the economy and the cyclical nature of politics, we may be in for a long rough ride.

1 Response to “If it isn’t Wall Street or Main Street, it must be a Side Street”

  1. 1 theblackhen 24 October 2009 at 11:55 am

    There was a time in this country when our leaders came out of the private sector-business men, farmers, pastors, traders, but now our government is made of born and bred politicians. They totally can’t relate to how business really functions and every time they get involved they make things worse. I think their lack of real world experience hurts their creativity too, and they can’t imagine that small business can be creative enough to solve a lot of the problems. Good luck!

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