Monday, January 26, 2009

Brace Yourself

When I was a teenager, I remember listening to some of Bill Cosby's comedy albums. On one album — the rest of his monologue escapes me at the moment — he told his listeners, "Never say that things can't get any worse. Because that's when the gremlins say, 'Worse!'"

With that in mind, I recommend a special report by David Goldman at I feel compelled to warn you, though, that what he has to say is not too uplifting.

But what the hell? It's a Monday. Who expects good news on a Monday?

As the Carpenters used to sing, "Rainy days and Mondays always get me down." And today, in Dallas, Texas, we happen to have both. Sort of a double whammy, you might say.

Anyway, back to Goldman's piece.

He says a survey of economists reveals that most are expecting the recession to get worse than it already is the farther we go into 2009.

"Companies will lay off more workers and hoard more cash during the next 12 months," he quotes from the results of a survey of the National Association for Business Economics (NABE). "A vast majority of the 105 economists polled believe the country's gross domestic product will continue to sink in 2009."

NABE began this survey in 1982. I graduated from college that year, in the midst of what was a roaring recession, and I felt fortunate at that time to even get a job, even though it didn't pay too much. I guess, these days, there are many who will take just about any job, even if it doesn't pay as much as they would like.
Nearly half — 47% — of surveyed economists said overall industry demand was falling, compared with 35% who said so in the October survey. Just 10% of respondents said profit margins were rising, compared with 52% who believe they are falling. And 38% of economists said capital expenses are falling, up from just 15% in October.

Nearly 40% of economists think their industries will lay off workers in the next six months, Goldman reports. That's up from 32% in October. And the "goods-producing sector" has a "particularly poor" outlook, Goldman says. In that area (which seems somewhat vague to me), nearly seven of 10 economists anticipate layoffs.

In general, Goldman says, less than one-quarter of economists (closer to one-fifth, actually) believe the economy will expand this year. More than 60% thought it would expand back in October.

Well, there is more, if you care to read it.

If you still have your job, though, do whatever you can to keep it. Come in early. Stay late. Eat lunch at your desk. Volunteer for additional duty. Make yourself vital.

Even that may not be enough. But it's the best advice I can give.

Unfortunately, for the unemployed, there doesn't seem to be much to say except keep looking, keep applying.

And, if you still have any faith left, keep praying. It can't hurt.

Just don't say, "Things can't get any worse."

Yes, they can.

P.S. to my readers: Since this was written a few hours ago, the Wall Street Journal mentioned this blog as one of the blogs referring to the NABE survey.

No comments: