Crisis will affect jobs if left unchecked

Published 10:00 pm Monday, September 29, 2008

If Congress doesn’t pass a proposed $700 billion economic bailout, jobs might become scarce, local analysts said.

“It’s not just a problem on Wall Street,” said Robert Earl Stewart, a professor of finance at Troy University. “It is a problem on Main Street.”

In a conference Monday sponsored by Troy University and Troy Bank and Trust on understanding the financial crisis, Stewart, along with Director of the Center for International Business and Economic Development Judson Edwards, broke down the basics of the nation’s economic crisis.

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“We’ve been using our mortgages as a form of welfare,” Stewart said.

Edwards said jobs have been eliminated in the country every month this year, totaling 605,000 so far, and 32 percent of employers said it will only get worse.

In the state, Edwards said jobs have been added, but they are fewer in number than the previous year.

“In Alabama, 8,500 jobs have been added from May 2007 to 2008, but in 2006 to 2007, 30,000 were added,” Edwards said.

And though jobs may be only continue to decline from here if the mortgage lenders aren’t “bailed out,” the House of Representatives voted to reject the $700 billion bailout plan Monday, after stocks already started plummeting that day, the Associated Press reported.

Stewart said the problem originates not just in people not paying their mortgages, but in the reduced credit standards for obtaining a loan.

“We’re now in the age of automatic credit qualifying,” Stewart said. “We are in an age where individuals don’t approve loans anymore.”

Stewart said the loaning standards for automatic qualifying were devised not by private lenders but by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“In moving into this area of lending, it should be obvious Fannie Mae took more risks, which may not pose any problems during economic good times, but it does when the economy is down,” Stewart said.

If a bailout plan, or something like it, is passed, Stewart said the money will not fall back on the taxpayer, but it will be obtained in government securities.

Edwards said the economy hasn’t gone into an economic recession yet, but the financial crisis has already started extending into other areas of the economy.

“We’re not technically in a recession, but boy does it feel like one,” Edwards said.

Aside from job market concerns, Edwards said housing values, rising food and fuel costs and inflation coupled with lower income are areas of concern.