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Building confidence

MBJ Editorial

Many an economist has observed that the American economy has fundamentals which are sound. Solid. Primed. Indications are that we have every reason to expect a recovery from this recent slump. The numbers are good, and the relatively quick military victory in Iraq has boosted consumer confidence.

In fact, reports last week showed that the Consumer Confidence Index for April climbed almost 20 points — the greatest single-month jump in the CCI in more than a decade.

“The swift outcome in the Middle East has helped quell consumers’ short-term concerns,” a director of the Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center explained.

A brighter outlook on the future of the economy should have positive effects on a wide range of businesses. Mississippi’s auto dealers are hopeful that their business is picking up.

As a story in this week’s issue of the Mississippi Business Journal puts it:

The incentives are high. Interest rates are low. The war is over. And the springtime is here, which is always good.

That’s how Stan Crawford, general sales manager of Champion Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge in Gulfport, sums up the current car-selling market.

Car selling hasn’t been immune to the decline in the economy. Crawford and others interviewed said sales have been down from previous years. But things are starting to pick up.

“The end of the war made a difference,” Crawford said. “We’re also coming back into the summer sales season. People are buying. They are buying new trucks because the interest rates have gotten so low. They are buying Jeep Wranglers and Sebring convertibles. And they are buying late- model program used vehicles. The pricing makes them popular. Plus, they still have factory warranties and not a lot of miles.”

What we do with this new confidence in the economy is important. We are hopeful that Americans are ready to get out, invest and spend, and from Main Street to Wall Street get the world’s greatest economic engine humming again.

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