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OPINION: Patterson: Socialism argument not valid

Banks are in business to make loans.

That was the theme of remarks recently given about the commercial banking industry by Aubrey Patterson Jr., chairman and CEO of BancorpSouth Bank.

Patterson was the keynote speaker at the Jackson Downtown Rotary Club.

This followed a couple of weeks in Washington where he testified on behalf of the American Banking Association before the Senate Banking Committee and House leaders.

“The noncommercial, nonregulated segments of banking are what dragged the economy down,” Patterson told the crowd.

Patterson said while it’s harder to get credit, traditional banking institutions are still lending money.

He talked about that and many other subjects, including socialism, real estate and Toyota.

On the subject of screaming from the right criticizing President Obama and the Democrats for “leading the nation down the path into socialism,” Patterson said that critics don’t have a valid argument.

He did, however, say there is a limit to the money that should be used in the bailout of banks and other entities during this financial crisis.

Patterson said the government made the wrong decisions during the Great Depression, choking off money and credit lines, which caused the crisis to deepen, creating even more problems for more than a decade.

So, this time around, everyone knew that spending money was the thing to do.

“Throwing money at the problem is about the only answer, but we did so with the full knowledge that we have to get off that (at some point),” Patterson said. “We have to get back to a more fiscally responsible policies of funding government and outreach programs.”

As for the real estate market, he said that he is always leery of making predictions, but that the early indicators make him believe that it has hit bottom and is on the way back up.

He also touched on the Toyota plant in Blue Springs near his home in Tupelo. Production at the plant, which is nearly complete, has been delayed. Many have questioned whether it will ever open.

Patterson believes in Toyota.

“That plant will produce cars,” he said emphatically. “Those are great business people.

“My hunch is … (Toyota) won’t put in final equipment until demand for the (Prius) is warranted, but they will produce cars.”

Contact MBJ managing editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com.

About Ross Reily

Ross Reily is editor of the Mississippi Business Journal. He is a husband to an amazing wife, dad to 3 crazy kids and 2 dogs. He is also a fan of the Delta State Fighting Okra and the Boston Red Sox.

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