Rick Rogers: ‘So, how is the economy today?’
Did you ever think citizens of the entire country would become Wall Street analysts?
Did you think we would wake up each morning asking the following questions: What do I want for breakfast? Where are my shoes? What is the price of a barrel of oil going to be today?
The word “economy” is becoming engrained in our psyches. We spend each day driving around town with our eyes glued to the road — and the fuel store signs.
Those fuel signs have become almost as watched as the Major League Baseball standings on the sports pages this summer.
Every time the price of gas goes down a few cents, we sit in our cars and cheer.
And go fill up.
When the prices go up by the nickel or dime, we slump in our driver’s seats and think about how long it would take to get around town on bicycle.
Thursday morning, news broke that the “fragile economy” improved slightly at the beginning of the year and could grow a bit stronger in the current quarter as extra cash from tax rebates spur people to spend more.
The economy, The Associated Press reports, grew at a 1 percent annualized rate in the first quarter, helped in large part by stronger sales of U.S. products overseas, the Commerce Department reported.
But Reuters reports consumer confidence fell more than expected in June, hitting another 28-year low as surging prices and mounting job losses sapped sentiment, according to a survey released on Friday.
That’s not all.
The Surveys of Consumers said the final June reading for its index of confidence fell to 56.4 from May's 59.8.
The June reading is the lowest since 51.7 in May 1980, which was also the lowest reading ever. The index dates back to 1952, though the survey has been conducted since 1946.
The stock market tumbled Thursday, and light, sweet crude hit another record at $142 a barrel.
New applications filed for unemployment insurance held steady at a high level of 384,000, the Labor Department said.
On a slightly more positive note, the National Association of Realtors reported that sales of previously owned homes rose in May, although prices continued to drop. Sales went up 2 percent to a pace of 4.99 million units.
What does all this mean for average Joe and Jane? How much of the economic woes of the nation have trickled down to local residents and businesses?
When will it end?
The Fed hopes its powerful series of rate reductions and the government's stimulus will lift the country out of the doldrums over time.
Until then, we will continue to greet each other around town with the following saying, “Hey, Bill, how are you doing? Can you believe this weather… and these gas prices?”
Rick Rogers is the publisher of The Neosho Daily News. E-mail him at email@example.com.