Friday, July 17, 2009

Reporter's Notebook

- Steve McDonagh can be contacted at

Is it really starting to thaw?

Housing starts are up although prices continue to slide. The price of gas has gone down – a little. IBM -- long a bell weather of future economic activity – made more money on less gross revenue, hmmm?? I think we are on to something here. Companies big and small have been cutting, cutting, cutting, they have been cutting benefits, personnel, capital expenditures, bonuses (well there are some exceptions-See AIG) wherever they can. To be sure there are companies that were running way to fat and the recession forced them to make cuts that they might otherwise have continued to put off. The net effect of all these cuts has until now been mostly reflected in higher unemployment, higher medical costs for employees and the unemployed and, despite a shrinking economy higher consumer prices on many items. What the IBM numbers tell us is that many businesses are starting to see the cumulative effect of all these cuts -- more profits. Profits are good. All of us are in business to turn a profit and grow our business. The hope now must be that companies that have started their return to profitability will start to reinvest that money in their businesses by hiring—smartly- new employees, making the capital investments necessary for increased efficiency that they have been putting off for the past year and half, and returning benefit levels to a level that makes them once again an attractive perk of working for a particular company and affordable for middle income wage earners. Just recently several large companies announced new marketing and advertising campaigns that will get underway in the coming months. It will take just these kinds of actions by the businesses (large and small) that have weathered the storm and are now turning a profit to get the economy chugging back up the hill again and as the engine warms up we should all enjoy the THAW.

Out and About ….. Lisa Lowe enjoying BBQ ribs and discussing her dance moves…. Mike Smith making a guest appearance and stirring it up…… Meanwhile… Joe Zarelli was missing in action, in Cowlitz County. The Commish still pounding the pavement….Tim Leavitt...white shirt to a BBQ, and left with it unscathed!!.... KC raising big money for the Hough Foundation and having a good time at it…..Rob Stewart looking casual and enjoying a glass of wine on the lawn… Barbara Brace advising that there are deals being closed….Ralph Stevens busy teaching the ropes and passing out tips to the fresh faces in the job market.