“It’s better to be an optimist who is sometimes wrong than a pessimist who is always right.” —Anonymous
If it’s at all possible, we may be in the midst of a most un-recovery-like economic recovery. To many, it doesn’t look or feel much like a recovery. In fact, there have been some very confusing messages. Talk of double dips and stagnation in housing. Murmurs of deflation and quantitative easing. The progress of the recovery seems to be almost glacial.
As the economy worsened, prudence demanded cutting back and riding out the storm. And while the economic challenges resulting from the recession may not be completely over, when will we emerge from our places of safety? When will businesses begin expanding again? When will consumers feel confident enough to borrow? When will we stop looking past someone else—politicians, others in business, our neighbors—to be the source of the economic momentum that we need?
From my perspective, as someone in the business of lending money and helping people make wise financial decisions, the best way to explain what I’ve seen is something I remember from junior high dances. As the dance begins, there are couples all around, but none are dancing. They are waiting…waiting for someone to take to the floor first.
We are at a similar place with our recovery. While we likely no longer face an economic recession, the pace of recovery is slower and more uneven than we have seen in the recent past. What we face now is a recession of confidence. And the question we must ask ourselves is whether our business growth and activity suffers from the economic environment or whether the economy is suffering from a lack of business activity?
Everyone has to make a decision for themselves that fits their situation. But as individuals and business owners consider what to do next, let me point out some of the positives right now:
- Interest rates will likely never be this attractive again (at least not in our lifetime). Whether you are in the market for a home loan, refinance or credit for business expansion, this is a borrowers’ market. Competition between lenders to make loans to creditworthy borrowers is intense.
- Real estate has shown some signs of improvement. Sales of existing homes, nationwide, were up in November. Values in many markets have stabilized.
- In Peoria, there are several significant economic and employment boosts on the horizon, including the new airport terminal, the completion and opening of Bass Pro Shops this coming fall, extensive renovations to local schools, two library grand openings and future construction within the Warehouse District, among other projects.
- Consumers and businesses have been saving and paying down debt, which is a good foundation for long-term recovery.
- We are beginning to see some bright spots when it comes to loan demand, particularly among operating companies. Regions saw an increase in commercial loan balances in the third quarter versus the second quarter of more than $500 million. While it is too soon to consider this a trend, an uptick in loan demand signals that companies may begin hiring and expanding again.
As Helen Keller once said, “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” The Peoria community has so much to offer. It’s a great place to live and work, and despite all that has happened, there is hope. And promise. And the underlying confidence that the people and character of this community shall prevail.
There is ample reason to act, to move boldly and with confidence. The question is: Who will seize the moment and be among the first
to move? iBi