I know you are all probably wondering what I think about the state of the economy. The latest meeting of the Fed seemed to be one tremendous shrug of the shoulders which could mean ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I give up’. Either interpretation is pretty discouraging. So I thought I would weigh in with my opinion on the state of things.
Three years ago we thought we were moving to Fort Worth. My wife got a quote from a mover, us doing the packing and them doing the moving. The quote was informal. The price sounded good. The move didn’t happen. Now we are going to move to North Little Rock. She got a quote from the same outfit. It was almost twice as much. The quote consists of several pages full of rules, caveats, and exceptions. The price of gasoline is about the same as it was three years ago. We have less stuff than we did then. What happened?
I think I know what’s happened and I want to use the airlines as illustration. They charge for checked baggage. They will put you in group one for boarding for a price. They’ll charge you for pillows and blankets. They would charge for the peanuts if they could. They’ll do anything to boost a few more bucks out of you. The movers will threaten and cajole you into letting them do the packing. They will try to sell you their boxes and paper and blankets. Anything to get a few more bucks out of each customer.
So here’s what has happened. Companies have laid off and downsized and economized all they can. In other days they would cut prices to get more customers. But this time they have come to the conclusion that there are not many customers and cutting prices will not make any more customers. So they better make all they can off each one they get. Suddenly things that were considered part of the package are extras. Things that used to be free come at a price. Customer service will cost you.
The Leading Economic Indicators say that inflation is under control. That may be true for the every day stuff but if you have do something out of the ordinary, take a trip or move out of state, it’s going to be expensive and stressful.
So what does this mean? It means the fun things, vacations and movies and eating out, have gotten expensive and unsatisfying. It means that our world has gotten a little more depressing. And it means that there is no end in sight. Nobody seems to have any idea how to get out of this. Are we witnessing the end of prosperity? How does that make you feel?
Well pretty bad. Except for…
What if the US never returns to the level of prosperity we knew before? What if we are never again the richest most prosperous nation in the world? So what? God is still my joy. God is still my peace. God is still my provider. He has seen me through good times and bad. He has always been my joy, my peace, my provision even when I was not as close to Him as I should be. He has always been faithful. I don’t look to the Fed or to the president or the Leading Economic Indicators for what I need. I look to God.