Sarah talks about the economy in Michigan, and how that's relative to the rest of the country.

A member of my community was retiring recently and a write-up in a newspaper described the economic situation of my small town when he arrived in 1980. Pretty grim.

And because my dad was a writer and had a small publishing business--yes, I followed in my dad's footsteps just like many of you--our household personified financial slump. Advertising was an "extra" some companies, mistakenly, put first to cut and, unfortunately, last to pay. Even grimmer.

I hadn't noticed anything amiss in town at the time, but pondering it now, I can tell that things are different. New construction is everywhere, schools are adding activities for kids rather than cutting them, and a general feeling of affluence permeates the streets.

What was it like where you are 20-some years ago? Ten years ago? Five years ago? When you first went into business? And what is it like today?

Of course it's better!

Our alleged economic dip of late has been examined backwards, forwards and sideways for several months now, and some like me believe it has been hastened by far too many news outlets competing to be the first to predict a trend or deliver "hard truth." And with all the doom and gloom out there, who wouldn't be tempted to run home, lock the doors and stuff all his money in a sock? As the saying goes, perception is reality, so it's high time we take a fresh look at some good news.

A consensus of 54 economists in the Wall Street Journal's semi-annual forecasting survey are calling for a continuation of a sluggish third quarter of 2001, but foresee growth of 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter and 3.1 percent in the first half of 2002. This compares to growth of 1.2 percent in the first quarter of 2001.

The NASDAQ Composite Index ended the second quarter up 17 percent, breaking a string of four straight quarters of losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the second quarter as its first positive quarter since the third quarter of last year.

And since the publishing biz has been my lifelong economic indicator, I'll make a prediction of my own. This industry went through a boom; Walls & Ceilings benefited, the manufacturers benefited and the contractors benefited. Now it's time for a little re-adjustment, and that's OK. Walls & Ceilings is still strong, as are the rest of the magazines in my company that report on the construction industry. And we're going to stay that way.

Things are wonderful in my town. How about yours?

Sarah Mazure

Editor and Publisher