I’ve had a real sense lately that the economy is inching forward. I don’t mean on Wall Street or in board rooms. I mean in the hopeful glint I’ve detected in my clients’ eyes. And in the cautiously expectant expressions on retailers’. faces. Something is up.
I realize most business people have been tortured and beaten down by the spiraling losses of these last few years, made appallingly worse only by the unbounded optimism that preceded it. There was such an astonishing loss of innocence with the recession that seasoned business professionals were caught totally by surprise and unprepared. Many not particularly talented or deserving business people enjoyed unparalleled growth and riches while the economy sailed along on the back of foolish and dangerous loans and patently criminal behavior. But eventually the piper came a calling. And everyone had to pay up.
For the longest time since the great fall I rarely saw any optimism, or enthusiasm, or fight left in legions of business owners. Workers never felt less secure about employment knowing that termination could come at anytime. Virtually every industry lay waste, workers and management were dazed and shaken. And no matter how many earnings reports, or forecasts, or recovery plans were put forth nary a person seemed to have a lick of hope that conditions were improving. It’s dragged on and on, and what used to be known as “consumer confidence” became a mere memory like eight track tapes and rotary phones.
But I have observed long and hard with a keen eye to the emotional pulse of the small business owners. I have peered at their reactions, and response, and doubts, and only very recently have I seen a glimmer of hopefulness returning. Managers are looking further out, slowly hiring, making longer term plans and taking ever slightly more risk again. The terror that filled every cubic inch for what seemed an interminable sentence, is giving way to an ever so wobbly new normal. No one dare think business will ever be as it was five or more years ago. However, people are a funny lot. We have fortunately short memories of unmentionable pain and loss enabling us to pick up and move onward even when unwise.
The pendulum always swings back again and we will eventually regroup and dare to hope for far better days. Some will experience great affluence in the next chapter, many will survive to muddle through. But, there certainly is no denying that, by indicators other than the government’s or trade organizations, there is a new stirring. I believe it is finally time to cast off that horrible pall that’s cloaked us for such a long long time and back into fiscal health