Economic Downturn: What are your thoughts?

This economic crisis has been on my mind a lot lately.  It is hard for me to fathom exactly what is happening being located so far away from the direct impacts.  This week alone I read several very insightful posts from other bloggers around the globe focused on the US crisis (and it’s no longer simply a US crisis, it’s now worldwide, but I’m focusing on the US for now).
Diane at Martini’s For Two posted her thoughts at this blog post entitled That’s What I Call Stimulating!  Please take a moment to read her thoughts.  She’s an expat like me.  
Another good post I read was from Coach Blogger entitled Looking To Be Led  Some thoughts on our new President.
Carol at Northwest LadyBug always keeps it real.  These are just some places in her local Seattle that are on the layoff list in her post Would the Last Person to Leave Seattle Please Turn Out the Lights?  A most delightful account of recent layoffs from companies around every economic sector.
I could go on but I think you get the idea that the economy is on everyones minds these days.  So I wanted to get a good feel for what is going on with real American’s in everyday life.  I’ve put together some questions I hope you’ll answer at the end of this post.  It doesn’t matter what you believe political, socially, religiously; it doesn’t matter where you live, in a city or sleepy village, Utah or New York, that’s not the point.  I want to know what the downturn of the economy means to you and yours.  Feel free to leave your thoughts anonymously if you prefer. 
I’ve done some homework on everything and I have the following “fun” facts and figures (and their sources).  Tell me what you think of what the experts say.
    Unemployment rate in January 2009 – 7.6%  (comparatively Cologne, Germany 11%)
    Highest jobless rate in 17 years
    Source – Yahoo News

    Top companies reporting large layoffs:
    Catepillar Inc, Pfizer Inc, Microsoft Corp, Estee Lauder Cos., Time Warner Cable, Sprint Nextel Corp, Office Depot, Macy’s, GM, Ford, Sharp, DHL (with 7500 jobs in last cut, that was personal to me and my family, though we still do have a job at present), Dow Chemical, Sony, Principal Financial Group, Starbucks and AT&T.  
    And some big numbers to think about: 
    Bank of America to cut 35,000 jobs in the next three years
    Credit Suisse Group, DuPont and Viacom 34,000 jobs among the three
    Source: Money CNN 

    Bernard Baumohl, chief economist at the Economic Outlook Group said the jobless rate will peak to close to 10% by 2010.
    Job Loss State by State:

    Top Ten States in order and Number of Jobs Lost:

    • Michigan         241,833
    • California        189,749
    • Ohio                 159,061
    • Texas                137,191
    • Indiana              111,665
    • Florida              99,199
    • Illinois              93,763
    • New York         82, 357
    • Tennessee        79,424
    • Pennsylvania   76,759


    To see where your state placed visit: Money CNN

    I would like to know your response the following questions if you are willing to answer them.  I’d even love to hear what other expats around the globe have to say as well so please post your answers in the comments.
  1. Is the US economy worse than you thought?  Better? What economy?
  2. Do you think President Obama can bring the necessary changes needed to get things back on track?  If no, how would you help the economy?
  3. Have you personally been affected by the economic crisis of the last year?  How (loss of job, 401k, etc.)?
  4. What things have you had to forgo or postpone because of the economy?  
  5. Where have you made the biggest cutbacks at home?  (food, transportation, vacations etc.)
I’m going to leave this up for a few days and then I’ll put up a post with the top answers later next week.
And please no one go jump off a bridge or something after reading this!  There is an end (somewhere) in sight to the economic madness, it’s just not going to happen overnight.
~Absolutely wonderful responses and comments.  Keep them coming I’ve been reading them and keeping track of them all for next week.~

15 thoughts on “Economic Downturn: What are your thoughts?

  1. Hi there…thanks for stopping by my chaos of a blog!! Okay, here is what I have to say about this:1)Economy…What Economy??2)President Obama fixing things…I don’t know…can he stop printing money??3)Everyone is affected whether they realize it or not…personally, yes, we have been through his job and obtaining health insurance…um family of six, kinda important!!4)Would have loved to sell our house the last two years we tried to list it…5)The cutbacks have been a ripple effect…gas was crazy, so we didn’t drive as much, which meant we didn’t travel as much, which also meant that we didn’t eat out as much, which also meant that we didn’t shop as much…ETC…you get the idea…Loved the thought provoking post…!


  2. I have been saying for years that energy has been far too cheap, in historic terms… we use it too extravagantly and this is finally going to catch up on us.Interest rates were too low over the last 10 years or so, the banks got lazy about checking who was creditworthy, and at the same time got even greedier.Interesting fact that I read yesterday (on subject of greed): 20 years ago the CEOs of big American companies were paid on average 40 times as much as their average worker; now that ratio is a shameful 330 times as much!!My solution to this discrepancy: if a company or bank gets federal money, the top officials must agree to a salary cut to narrow the awful gap. Think of it this way: If a senior executive has his pay reduced to a (still appalling) 40x ratio, his company could hire nearly three hundred new workers!


  3. Is the US economy worse than you thought? Better? What economy?I think it is worse than I thought…. Do you think President Obama can bring the necessary changes needed to get things back on track? If no, how would you help the economy?I think he will be bringing a new perspective and I hope his ideas bring about the changes we need!Have you personally been affected by the economic crisis of the last year? How (loss of job, 401k, etc.)?We have not really been affected. My husband’s 401k has taken a hit, but we are young and the way we look at it we are buying low….What things have you had to forgo or postpone because of the economy? The only real change I see that we have made is, we are dumping a lot of our excess money on our truck payment because it would be nice to free up $500 a month if needed….Where have you made the biggest cutbacks at home? (food, transportation, vacations etc.)I don’t think we have really made any changes…. We are very fortunate… Stopping by from SITS! Can’t wait to read all the results…


  4. We (in Northern Minnesota) live in such a protected area that we haven’t really felt the impact YET. It is just now starting to ripple in. The college can’t employ the student workers because the state revoked their funding – this is just one example of what is finally starting to effect us.I do wonder if employed people are being “scared” into believing. I think a lot of people are still fine and are being frightened into this crisis….Just a thoughtThanks,jules


  5. (knock on wood)- we have not had job loss here.. but the prices of everything going up and the qty in packages going down has definitely made a difference to us… especially in the supermarket. Where are the sales?!?The whole Economic Crisis is just depressing… I think I need to go eat another Girlscout cookie. haha


  6. 1. The economy is about what I thought already. It’s tough out there.2. I think our new President is bringing new ideas and hope to the table. I’ll willing to stick it out.3. We have lost a ton of money in our retirement funds. Thankful we have retirement funds, just not so happy that a lot of it now gone.4. We wanted to take a Hubby and Me only vacation to Europe last year, but the euro was WAY too high for us. We’ve been careful with all extra expenditures. We are VERY lucky that we do not count on my hubby’s bonus as an integral part of our budget.


  7. I am hopeful that President Obama can get the economy back on track but I also don’t think there are any quick fixes to problems that took years to create.My hubby just got his hours cut from 40-32. This will be difficult for us but so many of our friends have lost their jobs entirely we are just thankful he still has one.We have really cut back on going out to eat, clothes (buying purses) that type of thing. We have always been a frugal family so it hasn’t hit us hard but it will now that his income is being cut by $800/month.And, we don’t open our 401k statements right now for fear we would faint.


  8. Sorry, I forgot to answer your questions (which are very thought-provoking!):1. The economy is about what I expected, there is (was?) a bubble on the stock market and house prices; there will be a lot of retrenching going on in the next couple of years.2. Obama is certainly the best possible candidate for changing things, he is astute and has the right philosophy. I would say to him to choose his advisors well, not to be afraid of changing the status quo, but not to print TOO much money, because that will inevitably devalue whatever savings anyone has– and the ones who will get hit the hardest will be retirees.I haven’t been affected… yet… but I am anticipating about a 10% drop in income this year, even if my organisation can carry on normally. But I see a deep deficit in the community finances coming in a year or so which will certainly affect our budget, because we are directly paid by the city.But my brother-in-law just lost his job this week at Boeing (after more than 25 years), and my brother at NPR reports that they are all nervous (this is ironic, because their listener base is growing strongly every year).I had some money invested in a mutual fund (NOT Madoff!) which has been more or less wiped out but I can smile about that because I had only invested about $360. We don’t have 401k’s here, but I am assuming that the pension funds are going through a difficult time; we can only hope the government will come through and support any losses.4-5. I live pretty frugally anyhow– haven’t had a car for 10 years, go everywhere on bike or train, sublet 2/3 of my apartment, one son is going to college in Minnesota but has a full scholarship, and the other son reckons that they couldn’t teach him anything he didn’t already know.Given the size of the recession, I am fairly lucky, but I am still worried about what will happen to my orchestra in the next couple of years, and of course I worry about job openings for my kids. (God forbid they want to move in here again…)


  9. 1. The economy is bad, to be sure. But it ebbs and flows just like it always has. And in time, the market corrects itself. i.e. I am against the stimulus package!2. I don’t think President Obama alone can do anything about the economy. But he can make prudent decisions/choices regarding spending. And he can resolve to stop bail outs and bring back personal responsibility. P.S. – please stop printing so much money!3. We went through job loss 5 years ago. We lost our home and retirement. We are still rebuilding. My husband’s company just had a layoff and downgraded our health insurance to bare bones coverage.4. As far as postponing, we basically live day to day. We budget as best we can but don’t make any real long term plans because of this instability. 5. We have “downgraded” our lifestyle a lot, frugal tho’ we were. We moved to a smaller place with less rent. Our food budget is quite small, around $230 per month. Very simple meals. I can only fill up my car about once a month (sometimes twice), so I have to limit my driving. Eating out, etc. has basically been cut out, though we occasionally allow for a little treat somewhere. Spend lots of family time together, but don’t go anywhere that costs anything. Trips to the ocean are just gas. We pack our own food when we go anywhere. No cable t.v., no land line telephone, shop at thrift stores and try to buy used. Just livin’ the simple life. It’s good, though. 🙂


  10. Thanks for stoppin’ by my blog.I’ve been readin’ yours and you have a great blog. It’s interestin’ to get the point of view of someone who doesn’t live in the U.S.I know the economy is a nightmare. Where I live in Missouri, we are a little insulated. But I have a girlfriend who spent a lot of time lookin for a job the past year. When she finally found one, it was totally out of her experience. She called me Thursday and she was told that day, that the business was shuttin’ down.When gas prices were so high this past year we shut down a lot of needless drivin, and still do. If I need to go into the big city I hitch a ride with my husband as he goes into work.Our grocery prices have gone up a lot, supposedly because of gas prices, which I can understand. Now that the gas prices are down groceries are still up, they now say it is because wages have gone up. I don’t know one person who got a wage increase. The great gougin’ of the American people.We have stocks we’ve paid into for years for retirement. Ha Ha Ha!!!They say it could take as long as 10-15 years for them to get back to where they were. Let’s face it, do they really know?But through all this ugliness and fear of what’s to come, we have to hold onto what is important. God, and each other. We have become a way too materialistic society. My parents and my husband’s both lived through the Great Depression. So all my life I have heard how hard it was. They never got over it. Both Mom and MIL were extremely frugal. They saved EVERYTHING.In this country we just need to learn to live with less stuff. We need to relearn the basics and teach our children that havin’ everything you want is NOT essential to your happiness. I pray every day for our President and our Country and the World. We are not the only ones to be goin’ through tough times. We just have to hold on and be strong. The human race has gone through some major trials and tribulations since time began and it has survived. We can do it and hopefully people will get more grounded and things will be better than before. That’s the best that we can pray for.


  11. 1: Worse.2: He can help, but it can’t be done by him alone.3: Laid off last December. Erk.4: Some dental work, getting new car.5: Eating at home a lot more. I actually eat pretty well, because now I have more time to fix things! :)Thank you for the follow on Irish Gumbo, that’s very kind. Glad to have you aboard! And you have better access to German beer, I’m jealous…


  12. Sorry, but my brain is mush right now with virus and I can’t follow the questions. I hate being sick!Here’s my quick thoughts. Being that I have a husband in sales, the economy has affected us, but I think the media has been very psychologically damaging. I’ve felt such a blues over the economy and then when my husband and I looked very closely over the numbers, we aren’t doing all that differently than in a normal economy. The media has definitely had a negative impact on the American psyche. I don’t think they should ignore the problem, but I think their horrible headlines, meant only to win ratings and readers, are making things worse.


  13. Hi, here from sits. I actually posted something on my blog on how we’ve cut back, but in a very joking way. The truth (as I see it) is:1. it’s ulgy and bound to get uglier2. Obama will try but he’s got his hand tied by very powerful financial families who control everything (even him)3. No personal loss as far as job, savings (we got out last May) but dark cloud looms overhead4. No traveling, daughter’s choir going to Easter Europe tour, but she’s not. It breaks our heart but there’s no way we can spend 6k on this.5. we walk or ride our bike when possible, make lunches, and no eating out every week anymore.Thanks for the lively discussion here! Auf wiedersehen!


  14. Ok, first off, thank you for typing quietly. I did have a killer head ache! LOLThis post is interesting. We actually have been preparing for this down turn for some time. My hubs is a bit of a genius when it comes to things like this.I think alot of people are “waking up” so to speak, but a little too late. It is hard for me to understand how people can be so in debt with mortgages, cars, stuff…and think they can always get by paying their bills. It can turn on a dime, and it is happening to so many people. Job loss, medical concerns, taking in relatives that have nothing left. The foreclosures in Texas are growing.I’ve been playing the coupon game like never before. I try to keep my same stock of groceries but have learned to shop smarter.We’ve given up some things, but honestly, I think alot of what we were doing was irresponsible. My hubs was making great money and we took advantage of that. Luckily, we wised up and got it together again before it was too late.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s