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Cooling off

MBJ Editorial

The cult of Alan Greenspan breathed a collective sigh of relief last week as the Federal Reserve

chairman hinted that the central bank would ease its monetary policy if the U.S. economy continues to

slow.

In a speech to community bankers in New York Dec. 5, Greenspan said, “In an economy that already

has lost some momentum, one must remain alert to the possibility that greater caution and weakening

asset values in financial markets could signal or precipitate an excessive softening in household and

business spending.”

The markets were quick to respond to Greenspan’s comments, as well as to a Florida court’s decision

that pushed the presidential vote-count quagmire closer to resolution, with impressive surges. Nasdaq,

which has been down significantly as tech stocks have fizzled, saw a 10.48% rebound — its biggest

single-day gain ever, according to The Industry Standard.

The possibility of an economic cool-down has kept the attention of many in the Mississippi business

community. How might our economy be impacted if the national economy slows down? What might

happen to the gaming industry? The manufacturing sector? Small town retailers? Economic

development efforts?

Clearly, economic cycles happen, and we must ride the bulls and bears as best we can. There are a few

things to do to prepare for whatever may come:

• Solid investment in value-added industry. Landing the Nissan plant in Madison County was a giant

step forward in industrial development, but it’s still just a step. Work must continue to strengthen and

enhance industrial opportunities in Mississippi.

• Workforce training and education improvements. We’re moving closer to a comprehensive system of

training workers for existing and new jobs, but turf battles and duplicated efforts are problems. As

funding sources grow tighter and bureaucratic hoops more complex, the business community must take

the lead on worker training issues. Government has a role in training, but business must lead.

• Support what we have. Buy at home. It doesn’t get much simpler. Support your business friends and

neighbors; they’ll support you.

Financial Planning 101 says that a diversified portfolio held over time will grow and provide the best

return on investment.

Right now, that’s what we need to do, and keep doing, in Mississippi.

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