Monthly Archives: July 2010

How long will aviation be a Wichita mainstay?

The August edition of Money magazine contains a fairly significant plug for Wichita: The city ranks 14th on the magazine’s list of most affordable housing markets.

There’s a lot of truth to that. Home-buyers will always get more for their money in Wichita than on the coasts

But … the reason why sounds a lot more like yesterday than today, sadly:

“Today, aircraft manufacturing is an economic mainstay, with Learjet, Cessna and Hawker Beechcraft all based in town, while Boeing and Airbus maintain facilities … Those industries offer well-paying jobs, which is reflected in Wichita’s high median income.”

At least for the time being, eh?

Read more on this story in Tuesday’s Business Today.

You can take my Big Mac from my cold dead hands

Here’s a shocking number: Nation’s Restaurant News reports restaurant sales were down 1 percent between March 2009 and March 2010. 1 percent! That’s it. I guess people aren’t as deeply in distress as they say they are.  I mean, if you’re sweating out the downturn, worried about your job and your finances — going out to eat is the first thing you cut.

Here we go again

After Tuesday’s breaking news that Hawker Beechcraft has been searching for “alternate locations,” I was pretty certain that the blowback from the local residential real estate industry wouldn’t take long.

I hate being right.

Sure enough, a message arrived this morning from a residential broker concerned – and rightfully so, I might add – about the impact Hawker’s destabilized Wichita presence will have on the Wichita housing market.

The message was concise: Please quit reporting about Hawker’s deliberations because it will hurt the Wichita housing market. The implications are clear and, quite frankly, accurate: When Wichita loses jobs, buyers become cautious and homes don’t sell.

It’s not the first time that the residential crowd has cast a wary eye toward the messengers down here at the Worldwide Businessplex. As home sales plummeted over the past two years, it was suggested frequently that we stop reporting those numbers. One industry e-mailer even suggested that we falsify them because we were “killing my business.”

We don’t want to kill anyone’s business. But friends, we’re in the business of reporting the ups – and downs – of Wichita’s business climate. Sadly, when a major airplane builder begins casting its eye to other locations, it’s news.

I would MUCH rather write about skyrocketing home sales. But when they fall, we’re going to write about that, too.

The Hawker news is troubling, for sure. But as more than one residential broker has told me over the years, “We’re Wichita. We’re resilient. We’ll bounce back.”

Keep the faith.

Has Congress gone far enough?

This from the Associated Press:

A lawmaker in Congress is prodding the Federal Reserve to provide more protection so that credit card users don’t get socked by exorbitant interest rates when they fall behind on their payments.Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., says “credit card companies can still double or triple the interest rate when a consumer falls two months behind on payments” despite new Fed rules.

Schumer wants the Fed to alter the rules, which take effect Aug. 22, to prevent big rate hikes under such circumstances. If the Fed doesn’t act, Schumer says he’ll seek legislation to compel the Fed to do so.

Congress directed the Fed to implement the new rules in a sweeping law enacted last year.

Amidst all the bizarre partisan wrangling in Washington over finance this summer – I’m still trying to get my arms around the notion how cutting off unemployment benefits is good for the economy – give me your thoughts on this one.

Has Congress gone far enough protecting consumers from their banks?