An encouraging way to look at the $700 Billion Bailout: with reservations

I'm always one who enjoys hearing a positive spin on the economy, and so I thought I'd share what Peter Justen, the CEO of MyBizHomePage, told me today when we started discussing the current economic situation:

"In many ways you can make the argument that our overall economy is very strong. Think what would happen if some other countries took a $700 billion hit to their economy," said Justen. "There would be tanks in the street. And we're still living our lives and asking friends if they want to go to a movie on Friday."

Yeah, he's right. Heck, the stock market even opened strong today.

His words were encouraging, especially because it's not as though Justen just fell off the proverbial turnip truck. (I really need to look into how that saying came about. Did someone make it up who hates turnip farmers? Was it statistically proven that turnip growers have a lower IQ than someone who grows kumquats?) But, anyway. Justen's immersed in the corporate world. He's a former mortgage banker, and his company's product, MyBizHomePage, is a free online site that automatically translates QuickBooks data into relevant information that entrepreneurs can use. As said in a 2006 article, the site translates this relevant info into "just enough financial details to give you an overview of the business, without the mind-numbing detail."

Of course, I should have just left Justen's positive economy comment hanging there, but I prodded Justen for a little more information, and he agreed with the consensus that as strong as our economy is, it could derail pretty quickly if Congress doesn't work out a bailout package soon. And in that case, things could be "catastrophic."

"You have a system where guys who have spent their career in finance, like [Secretary Treasurer] Henry Paulson and [Fed Chairman] Ben Bernanke are going to be working on a package with guys who sold used cars and are now in the Senate," said Justen. "In other words, I'm not sure some of these lawmakers are knowledgeable enough to make crucial decisions, and I'm pretty nervous about that."

And now I am, too. Thanks very much. On that note, I think I'm going to go forget my troubles and catch Ghost Town or that new western with Ed Harris. Anyone have a copy of the movie listings?

Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale). Despite ending this blog on an ominous note, Williams does think that Justen makes an excellent point about the strength of our economy and that it's important to focus on that.And the latest headlines show that we are close to a bailout package.

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