The economy is slowly, tentatively recovering. Rather than roaring
to life with historic gains, this recovery is more like someone
who, after months of being in bed with a horrible illness, finally
feels well enough to sit quietly out in the sun for an hour in
But I’ll take what I can get.
First, we’re seeing a small-scale return of real estate
demand. It’s nothing near 2005 levels, but investors in
certain areas are snapping up lower-end properties with the intent
of either turning them into rentals or remodeling them for a quick
flip. Either way, demand is slowly rising, particularly in some of
the spots hardest hit by the bubble, including Phoenix.
Recently, the Dow closed at a four-year high, and while
unemployment numbers are still spiky, we’re no longer
bleeding jobs the way we were three years ago.
However, this recovery is so uncertain, so fraught with other
factors that could bring it down (record-high gas prices, lower
consumer confidence) that it is anyone’s guess where
we’ll be at this time next year.
Yet I choose to be optimistic. For the upcoming presidential
election, Barack Obama is going to work overtime positioning
himself as someone who saved us from a worldwide depression.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, his opponent, no doubt will claim that the
economy is still ailing and he’s just the man to fix it. But
whatever the voting outcome brings, the election itself may well
provide a bump in our collective fortunes. In a survey published by
a group of financial advisers, 56 percent of investors believe this
election will improve our economic outlook regardless of who
But perhaps most telling is that lately, when I talk with pool
builders and retailers, they are reporting almost to a person, that
things are improving in their markets. The mood out there is
decidedly more upbeat than in recent years, and hearing people in
our industry talk about the future with hope is like seeing the
first signs of spring after a long, hard winter.