Friday Five for October 28

It’s interesting to read about the optimism or pessimism of the American consumer. It seems that there are times when the media use reports like this to push their own agenda. I don’t think this particular WSJ article does this, but I have seen it happen in the past. Interestingly enough, at a recent Bernstein event, I learned that Americans have bought down their debt to levels not seen in many years. In other words, due to the recession, Americans have tightened their belts and have paid off their debt. Apparently, they are planning for a long, tough haul on the economy and are shedding debt to help ensure they can make it through this tough time. Even though they might be pessimistic, they are also realistic and seem to be making good financial choices. Yet Fox Business tells us to not believe the polls because consumers continue to spend. Go figure.

This problem with student loan debts is symptomatic of our larger problem with debt in general. While individual Americans have spent the last few years buying down their debt, our government has gone on a spending spree, making promises that it can’t keep and cashing checks it cannot afford. College wouldn’t be so expensive if the government didn’t subsidize it. I had debt too, coming out of college and graduate school. It wasn’t pretty. What colleges need to do is to jettison many of the programs that don’t make money and keep those that do. BTW, having people pay off loans with lower payments over longer periods of time and then forgiving larger portions of the loans is NOT good for the economy. You don’t strengthen the economy by transferring private debt to the government. There is also the larger constitutional point that how Obama is circumventing Congress is not good. The blurring of the separation of powers should be resisted, regardless of who is in power.

Proffered in 1957, this matrix continues to be a useful way of thinking how to grow a business.

Six jobs that are in decline and five people who have great jobs. For some reason, neither story makes me feel better.

Hmmmm…………….not a SharePoint Saturday, but a Small Business Saturday. I like it.

Bill English, CEO