By Jack Kern, Research Editor
I think in many respects being an economist means you look at things the same way an urban planner does but with a much longer time horizon. A planner thinks about what initiatives make the city better today. An economist thinks about what is happening now that will affect what the city will look like, but much further into the future. I have been amused by the national punditry that keeps talking about how great it is that oil prices have declined (a polite word when in fact prices did what David Caruso did when he left the show NYPD Blue, only to return reincarnated with a smaller ego many years later). This price drop has the potential of giving a number of consumers some benefit in lower costs and higher potential pricing power, assuming of course the newly found income isn’t being spent on health care, food costs or underwater mortgages. To suggest in some odd way the people are going to run amok buying stuff now that a tank of gas is $20 bucks cheaper is just absurd. The vast majority of consumers are over extended, many have heavy student loan or credit card debt and some still have houses that are under water. (For those in foreign nations reading this, under water means the government convinced them to buy a house with artificially inflated interest rates that they couldn’t qualify for at the blackjack table in Las Vegas).