January 23, 2008 in City

Region’s residents brace for recession

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Rajah Bose photo

Volunteer Tom Sylvester teaches volunteers Myriam Munson and Elfrida Mullin a few tricks on the tax program to help people file their taxes during the CASH Coalition’s first tax clinic at Numerica Credit Union on Havana Street. The clinic will be offered at the site for two weeks and later at other Spokane area locations.
(Full-size photo)

With the Dow opening down more than 400 points Tuesday and the Federal Reserve Board cutting a key interest rate, concern about a recession was on the minds of some Inland Northwest residents.

In interviews with The Spokesman-Review, some said they see a recession coming. Others said it’s already here.

To brace themselves, some said they’ll cut back on consumer spending, eating out or vacations. Others want the president and Congress to come up with a program that will provide long-term help as well as a short-term stimulus. Here’s what some residents had to say:

•John Ladd, 73, retired from the Air Force and a career in the medical supply industry, said he thinks the country isn’t in a recession yet, but “we’re headed that way.” The key sign, he said: “The dollar’s going in the toilet.” Ladd, who was born during the Great Depression and has ridden out hard times before, said the main thing he’ll do to cope with recession is “just keep on doing what I’m doing … keep busy. … I can always find some kind of work.”

•Lana and Gary Lackey, both 49, said they thought the economy was at least headed toward a recession. Lana Lackey, a case administrator for U.S. Bankruptcy Court, said they’ll cut back on spending. “Just not using the credit card. And we’re not planning on going on any trips this year.” Gary Lackey, who’s in banking, said instead of eating out a couple times a week, it may be once every week or every two weeks.

•Todd Thompson, 43, the owner of a video production company, believes the recession has hit. “I think we’ve been in a recession for a little while, and it’s getting worse.” He’s afraid that what President Bush is proposing for a stimulus package will end up being “an easy Band-Aid fix that’s not going to solve the problem.” As his own boss, Thompson said he doesn’t feel as vulnerable as he did when he worked for a large company. “I can work hard to keep the money coming in. My earning potential is up to me.” But he realizes his business, which includes making 30-second television spots for local stores, could take a hit because one of the first areas some businesses cut in a recession is advertising. That’s what happened in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, he recalled. “I don’t think anything is recession-proof.”

•Clint Olson, 32, a computer programmer, also believes the economy is heading into a recession. His plan: spend less on entertainment and do less shopping.

•Sharon Wilson of Acton, Calif., who was shopping in Coeur d’Alene with her friend Sheri Scott from Athol, Idaho, believes the economy will get worse. Wilson’s husband, a firefighter in California, passed on a chance to retire last November and will work another three years to get a larger pension. “We’re really concerned. He thinks we’re going to be Wal-Mart greeters,” she said. “I definitely think it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

•Jeff Johnston, 56, a substitute teacher, said the recession is already here. “The big question for me is: how deep and how long?” He wants the federal government to come up with a package to pull the country out of a recession but thinks the nation needs to look beyond short-term profits and quarterly earnings to come up with long-term goals. Meanwhile, in his family they’ll cut back on spending, consider bundling things like phone service and cable television, and cut back on vacations. But that’s really just “a drop in the bucket,” Johnston said.

Not everyone is convinced the economy has soured to the point of recession.

•Justin LaTorre, 25, owner of Opa Pizza, said, “A lot of things I’m hearing I’ve been hearing for a while. … I heard some of these things before the whole real estate boom.”

•Jody DuPont, 48, a homemaker, said she thinks there are still jobs available and the news media seem to be painting a darker picture than is warranted. “I’m more of an optimist,” she said. She may cut back on discretionary spending in the near future, but she isn’t worried about the drop in stock prices. “I don’t really like to invest in the stock market. It’s too much of a gamble.”


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