Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Season for an Economic Recovery

As I write this, it is 7:12 a.m. in southeastern Pennsylvania and the first light of day is filtering in through the treetops. People are getting up at night and arriving at work before sunrise.

This night-in-the-morning effect is the combined result of nature and politics. The day is naturally shorter as fall wears on, and baseball saving time makes the day seem shorter than it is already. But while the lack of daylight may be a fact of life, it is also an extra challenge for an economy trying to get itself moving.

The gloom of winter affects people’s economic decisions. Stock market analysts can show you on charts how traders become more risk-averse in fall and winter. That’s not a favorable indication for the current highly speculative state of the U.S. stock market. But the same effect also reduces the number and scope of business initiatives. This affects activity on large and small scales. Not so many new businesses open their doors. There are fewer product releases. Sales visits are less frequent. Workers are less likely to change jobs.

With the cycle of the seasons working against the economy, I am not expecting the long-awaited economic rebound to arrive until February. Then the days will again be as long as they are now, and they will not yet be hindered by baseball saving time. As the financial headlines point out, many of the pieces are already in place now for a proper recovery. But attempts at expansion at this point are swimming upstream. It will come more easily as spring approaches. In the meantime, I am afraid it will get darker before it gets lighter.