The last couple of weeks, I've made fun of
so-called financial experts. Today I thought it would be good to get advice and
comments from some people who really know what's happening in the economy''your
Pete Claussen, CEO
of Gulf & Ohio Railroad (and the Three Rivers Rambler, a great fall outing I
highly recommend) acknowledges the excess media attention given to recent highs
in the Dow Jones Industrial Average: 'It took the Dow almost seven years to
reach its previous high, so inflation-adjusted it is still about 12 to 15
percent below that level. A 3 percent bond yield would have put you up more than
20 percentage points ahead of the index.'
At least the
valuations of the companies within the Dow are more reasonable today, notes
Regal Entertainment Group CEO Mike Campbell: 'Most of the companies that make up
the Dow are earning substantially more than they were six years ago.' But he
warns of the potential economic risks of higher prices for natural resources
caused by the exploding economies in China and India.
starting center for the Tennessee offensive
line, agrees with Campbell's premise that low oil prices are good
for the economy: 'These recently lower gas prices are great and I hope it will
continue. My suggestion is to tap into our reserves in Alaska. It would help our
economy, especially families that struggle financially.' Not bad for a college
freshman from Mississippi.
At Pilot Travel Centers,
president Jimmy Haslam sees business efficiency improving: 'We continue to see tremendous
gains in efficiency made by American businesses which enable them to hold prices
down and remain competitive.' He is cautiously optimistic that the economy will
grow in the 2.5 to 3 percent range over the next year to 18
In the nonprofit world,
Second Harvest's Elaine Machiela senses a strong local
economy: 'Our donation support has been outstanding. I'm not a financial expert,
but when our donations are plentiful, that means people are feeling good about
their community and their financial situations.'
Armistead Smith is the
Chairman of American Trust Bank, along with being a gentleman farmer and
horseman. He sees the economy from two distinctly different angles: 'For the
group that's doing well, the economy is good. But if you're on the bottom end of
the ladder or an entry-level job hopper, things aren't so
My barber, Donna Bunch,
has an interesting socioeconomic observation: 'People in their 20s are
struggling, not because of the economy, but because of where they are in life.
They have unrealistic expectations.' (I didn't ask Donna if she read the
infamous 'birthday party story' about the 15-year-old in Knoxville.)
attorney John Valliant, thinks this entire exercise is folly: 'David, if you
really want to do something useful, come over and help your favorite neighbor
mow his grass.'
Now that's an expert opinion.
David Moon is president of Moon Capital Management, a
Knoxville-based investment management firm. This article
originally appeared in the News Sentinel (Knoxville, TN).