The Outlook Continues to Improve
Pessimists like to point out that we are facing a number of macro-level challenges, including the impending expiration of various tax cuts and bumping our heads against the national debt ceiling once again. Compounding that is the fact that this is an election year. This means that both sides of the aisle will expend more energy on blaming the other side for our current problems than on solving any of them. We can only hope that, regardless of who wins the election, real steps will be taken afterward to get out of the way of the people who will help put this country and this economy back on track.
Who are these people whose help and maximum efforts are needed to put the wind back into our economic sails? Well, they look a lot more like the people reading this newsletter and similar newsletters in other industries around the country than they do like any Washington politician. The entrepreneurs and employees at small and medium businesses are the engine for economic growth in this country. The good news is that the entrepreneurs of the door and window industry increasingly inform me that their sales and earnings are improving and they are busy quoting new business.
I am always vigilant for concrete data that supports these anecdotal assertions. One example of supporting evidence is the fact that lending by U.S. banks to individuals and businesses turned positive last summer, meaning more money was being loaned out than was being repaid. Since then, such lending has increased steadily after having been on the decline since 2009. While businesses and individuals frequently borrow money to consolidate debts or take similar steps, much of that money is used for expansionary spending. Individuals remodel homes and companies refurbish, expand or build new facilities. This increase in lending is just one of the many signs of the economy returning to life. Those signs are everywhere and come not just from the latest housing numbers but from signals throughout our economy that people are starting to be more comfortable spending money again.
Fandango, the online movie ticket service, just posted its strongest quarter in its 12-year history. We shouldn’t ignore seemingly tangential economic signals like this. After all, the American consumer opening his or her pocketbook and starting to prudently spend again is one of the best things that can happen to the door and window industry.