Al’s column

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by Al Wahnon

LOOKING UP: Not everything that affects the economy is getting better, but these are times when we take solace in any morsel of news that can be construed as good. For example, the Conference Board of Consumer Confidence Index increased in August, reversing two consecutive months of decline, which in turn followed three straight months of improvement. The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. Consumers’ short-term future outlook rebounded in August. The Expectations Index increased to 72.5 from 67.5 in July. Numbers of those anticipating an improvement in business conditions over the next six months increased, while those who believe conditions will worsen declined. So consumers believe August was better than July and that the future seems promising.

RENEWAL: Lee Horwitz, president of A&M Carpet, Inc., dba A&M Flooring America and Big Bob’s New and Used Carpet, a Fresno, Calif., retailer since 1940, has emerged from reorganization under Chapter 11. Horwitz commented, “We are extremely grateful to our reorganization team, our employees who stood by us, our vendors who were patient and, most importantly, our customers who continued to support us.” A&M filed for reorganization Oct.1, 2009, and completed the process in less than 11 months. The company was founded 70 years ago by brothers Alex and Morris Horwitz. This is one retailer who is not daunted by an ailing economy. Good luck.

HELP WANTED: The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) is accepting resumes and proposals for a Standards and Development Administration position. Individuals and firms may apply for the full-time slot. Job responsibilities include: further developing and administering standards development organization (SDO) activities, serving as a liaison to strategically significant IICRC technical committees, advancing IICRC objectives with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), serving as a standards liaison to identified industries and or government agencies and providing organizational support to the technical committees in the development of standards. If you fit that job description, visit the IICRC website for more information about the job and how to apply. Then, submit a resume, cover letter with salary requirements and preference for employee or independent contractor status, and a writing sample relating to standards work. Applications are due Oct. 4 at 5 p.m. Central time and should be submitted to Patrick Winters, president, at president@iicrc.org.

INEVITABLE: This is no surprise. Everyone expected it, yet it is startling, something to behold. After three decades of spectacular growth, China passed Japan in the second quarter to become the world’s second largest economy behind the United States. The milestone, though anticipated for some time, is the most striking evidence yet that China’s ascendance is real and the rest of the world will have to deal with a new economic superpower. In recent years China passed Germany, France and Great Britain before it whizzed by Japan and now flexing its economic muscle has experts saying it will pass the United States as the world’s biggest economy as early as 2030. America’s gross domestic product was about $14 trillion in 2009. China has roughly the same land mass as the United States, but it has one-fifth of the world’s population and insufficient resources. It’s good to be an American.

SHORT STORY: Two Laws on Bullish and Bearish Economists by William Sherden. Remember the First Law of Economics: For every economist, there is an equal and opposite economist—so for every bullish economist, there is a bearish one. The Second Law of Economics: They are both likely to be wrong. Which is in accordance with my often shared sentiments: Economists are like weather forecasters. They are seldom right but they are never wrong. Sooner or later it has to rain.

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