The Waiting is Over! Back to Work!

I’m glad the stimulus package has finally passed – but not because I’m a big supporter of federal spending.

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I’m glad the stimulus package has finally passed – but not because I’m a big supporter of federal spending. I’m just hoping we can all get back to work and stop holding our breath waiting for it to happen!

I’ve been almost obsessive about reading all the bad economic news in print and on-line, and at times I find myself thinking the world has fallen over the edge and is in free-fall toward oblivion. And then I look around me and see a world that looks the same today as it did yesterday and the day before.

Right now, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, life goes on. When I drive to work I pass two active construction sites where they’re building new businesses. One’s a car dealership. When I take my wife out to dinner on Friday night, the restaurants are always busy. If I go to the store, I still have to stand in line at the checkout.

I know the high flying credit market has taken a nose dive and a lot of people have lost a lot of money. I know the housing market has imploded in some areas of the country. I know some state and local governments are struggling with huge deficits. People are losing their jobs. The country is in crisis.

But I feel the greatest danger to our country is our own fear and uncertainty. It seems like for the past several months we’ve been holding our breath: Waiting for election day, waiting for the bank bailout, waiting for the economic stimulus, waiting for salvation.

Now it’s time to get back to work.

Approval of the stimulus package may allow state and local governments to reduce borrowing as much as 8 percent while driving down interest costs for new municipal bond issues coming to market.

Interest rates paid by municipal borrowers have been dropping recently as investors seek shelter in the bond market. Top-rated municipal borrowers of 10-year maturities paid interest rates of 3.28 percent on Feb. 12, according to Municipal Market Advisors data, down from a one-year high of 4.71 percent Oct. 16.

The municipal bond market has become very attractive to investors. As an example, when California’s largest school system sold $950 million in bonds in February, investor orders exceeded bonds available by about $1.3 billion, officials said.

According to a recent analysis from McIlvaine Co., the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act could fast track 400 wastewater projects that otherwise would have remained on hold due to lack of funding. The lower interest rates and renewed flow of money through the bond market should provide additional incentive for water projects to move forward.

There’s a lot of pent-up demand for water infrastructure projects out there – and we all know there’s a huge need – but there’s also a huge need to get America back to work. By moving ahead with your municipal water projects, you benefit the environment, your local economy and your nation.

If you hold your breath and wait maybe things will get better – or maybe you’ll run out of breath while the world moves on without you.

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James Laughlin, Editor

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