Status Quo For The Economy

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Scott WebbJust pulled out a draft of a column written 18 months ago on the state of the economy. Amazing. I could almost use it verbatim; the issues remain unchanged.

Greece still totters on the brink of the abyss, threatening to drag the EU down with it and throw another rope around the ankles of the U.S. economy. And the rest of Europe is still arguing about what to do about it, asking the same question: Bail them out? Or let them sink. They'd like to bail them out, and make the problem go away, but what message does that send to people who just like to spend money they don't actually have?

Same sort of thing going on here on our side of the Atlantic — people talking about money they don't actually have — but over here it's the federal debt ceiling and whether it's time for another round of "Quantitative Easing," or QE3. (QE used to refer to majestic ocean liners. Now it refers to creating money out of thin air that was not earned, appropriated, taken in trade or tax, or even stolen. Money created simply by punching in figures under an account name in a government bank, and then used, in a roundabout way, to buy things.) It refers, in other words, to money we don't actually have.

Amidst this monotonous, unchanging economic backbeat of high unemployment and meager growth in GDP, here in our rather small pool and spa industry, the core issues remain the same as well. For many builders doing high-end projects, business is good. I cheer them on, but there aren't that many of them. And the people doing renovation and service are doing OK, too, but the majority of builders and spa retailers are still marching along, steadily but uncomfortably, waiting for housing prices to bottom out and start to rise again so ordinary, middle-class people will start feeling rich enough to spend money they really do have to buy spas and 12-by-24 package pools like they used to.

This was the state of affairs last year. It's the state of affairs today. I hope I'm not writing this same column in another 18 months.

Scott Webb

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