To pass or not to pass, that is the $700 billion question

Monday, September 29, 2008

What would you do with $700 billion?

That's a question I posed last week on my blog "Common Cents." It also is a figure that has dominated news stories this week.

The fate of this historic bailout plan was yet to be determined at the time this column was published. The monetary value placed on this plan itself is hard to fathom.

From what I've read in newspapers and seen on the cable news networks, the plan allows the government to purchase billions of dollars worth of assets from shaky financial firms in an effort to keep them afloat and prevent a financial meltdown. This deal could be at least $700 billion but I'm betting the number could reach the trillion-dollar mark.

Most bank presidents I talked to last week agreed while the national banks may be affected, most of Southeast Missouri's banks wouldn't be.

"I'm not crazy about it," said Capaha Bank president and chief executive officer John Abercrombie. "But not passing the bill would have a devastating effect on the national economy."

First Missouri State Bank of Cape County president Steve Taylor remembers past financial crises such as the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, which resulted in the failure of 747 savings and loan associations. The government picked up the tab on the majority of the $160 billion cost then. He said that the U.S. financial market recovered then and will this time.

"The free market will take care of itself," Taylor said. "In the end the strongest will survive."

Financial expert Dave Ramsey suggests a plan that makes perfect sense to me. "Companies that had billions in sub-prime loans were feeling the effects of their stupid decision to make those loans in the first place, and practically gave them away for pennies on the dollar," Ramsey wrote on his website, "But since no one wants these loans, and they've had to mark them down to market value, it has frozen the market. If we temporarily change the rule that forces companies to do that, that will free the market up."

With all this talk about an economic meltdown, SoILfarmgirl's suggested post on my blog makes perfect sense: "I'm going to Disneyworld."

* Pair of hair salons opening next month: A little more than four months have passed since I moved to the area and I've adjusted quite nicely. I've found my favorite coffee shop, pizza place and deli. But I've yet to find the right hair-care place.

For those of you still searching for a salon or business which sells hair-care products, two new options in Cape Girardeau will be available as early as Oct. 1.

Lockendz naturally for you, 1636 Independence St., is owned by Alka Johnson. The business will sell hair care goodies.

Meanwhile, KagMiya's Salon, 79 Plaza Way, is owned by Roshanda Robinson and specializes in styling and cuts.

* Ribbon cuttings planned: Ribbon cuttings are planned for two Cape Girar­deau businesses this week.

At 11:30 a.m. today, Hendrickson Business Advisors, 1729 William St., will dedicate its new office building. Jennifer Hendrickson and her husband, Rhett, started the business out of their home in 2007, fulfilling a lifelong dream of owning a business.

The firm provides management and marketing consulting services to businesses of any size and across a wide variety of industries.

And at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, B.P. Financial Services, 720 Caruthers Ave., will dedicate a new facility. The company is moving from a nearby building.

* Magazine names Saint Francis one of top 100 places to work in health care: Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau has been named among Modern Healthcare magazine's "100 Best Places to Work in Healthcare."

The periodical created the survey to recognize outstanding employers in the health-care industry throughout the United States. The magazine collected information from employees and employers and was open to all health-care-related companies with 25 or more employees.

Employers completed a survey detailing company policies, practices, benefits and demographics.

Employees were asked questions in the areas of leadership and planning, culture and communications, role satisfaction, working environment, relationship with supervisor, training and development, pay and benefits, and overall satisfaction.

Business reporter Brian Blackwell can be reached at 335-6611, extension 137, or

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