Silver lining to our failing economy

October 24, 2008 6:48:29 PM PDT
Earnings reports made many investors nervous Friday, leading to a state of near-panic on Wall Street where a 300-point drop in the Dow Industrials turned out to be a good ending to a rough day on the trading floor.

Early indicators were that the market just might drop far enough to force a halt in trading, perhaps more than 1,000 points, and at the opening bell the Dow did fall 500. However, that turned out to be the low for the day and the index closed down 312 points, down 5.5 percent for the week.

As bad as it looks, there may be a silver lining on the horizon. Worry about a global recession and a slump in energy demand have caused oil prices to drop. However, a respected Bay Area economist is telling us the market turbulence will not calm down until the presidential election is over.

Stores closing, retailers filing for bankruptcy , the ongoing string of bad economic news is doing nothing to stop the flight from stocks.

"People are right to be frightened. Probably the stock market won't bottom out until in the 6,000s, so it could drop another 1,000 or 1,500 points," said San Francisco State economist Daniel Vencill, Ph.D.

The economic uncertainty is global. Autoworkers at a Renault plant in France are angry because their hours and pay have been cut back as a result of slow demand for new cars. Stock markets throughout Europe and Asia have been suffering from the same selloff.

From the White House, a telling comment from Press Secretary Dana Perino: "The president and his team are focused on addressing the issues as best we can."

Former Bay Area congressman and U.C. professor Tom Campbell says the market turbulence will continue until after the November 4th election.

"Because the present administration is unable to make commitments that last longer than January, the ability to say we have a team in place and a plan going forward that can work with Europe and Asia is impeded. That will change the moment we have a new president. There is a sense that the new president will surround himself with his team and say we're getting into it. We've got the plan, and we're going to implement it," said Campbell.

If there is any good news in a meltdown, it is the way gasoline and oil prices are falling. Oil has dropped 50 percent, prompting OPEC ministers to curb production in an effort to boost prices. It is estimated that American consumers have saved $220 billion.

"That difference, the $220 billion, is greater than the entire stimulus checks that we sent out earlier this year. That was a $160 billion boost to our economy," said Campbell.

One economist told ABC News "fear of the unknown is probably the strongest kind of fear there is." That is the climate we are facing, fueled by the market finishing down 14 of the past 18 sessions.


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