While our flags fly at half-mast and our dollar tumbles to six-month lows at the hands of foreign investors loosing confidence in this country, a new resolve is galvanizing Americans. New Yorkers’ tough persona has been betrayed by an extreme outpouring of emotion and volunteerism. Americans are coming from all over the country to the aid of their countrymen in Manhattan and Washington.
The Red Cross and other crisis response organizations are seeing huge numbers of blood donors and contributions. Corporations such as GE and Cisco are making large contributions as well. Law enforcement agencies are moving quickly and intelligently against those who committed the heinous crimes and against those that continue to conspire to similar acts. Our president and his experienced cabinet are moving thoughtfully and brilliantly to form an international alliance and condemnation against our enemies. Our allies have demonstrated nearly unprecedented support for America. Additionally, they have stated intentions to prevent acts of terrorism from causing global recession. Even those countries historically less supportive of the U.S. are falling over each other to pledge their support. While there will be time for questions and analysis of how it happened, the majority of energy is being spent on the more important issues of mourning, supporting, rescuing, planning, responding, and getting back to the business of living as the greatest democracy on the earth.
Home Depot, Kmart, and WalMart have reported selling out of American flags. Leaders of some of the largest U.S. companies, unshaken by predictions of recession, said the economy will recover from the worst terrorist attacks in history. A few said business may even increase. “Consumer confidence is going to be strong. You just sense there is going to be this wave of patriotism,” said Herbert Baum, chief executive of Dial Corp. Aware of many analysts’ pessimistic views, they’re trying to avoid making the talk self-fulfilling. William J. Nutt, who heads a Boston asset-management firm, said he plans to buy stock for his personal account when financial markets reopen on Monday. “I think it is simply the right thing to do, and so whether I make money or lose money, I don’t care,” said Nutt, 56, chief executive of Affiliated Managers Group Inc. Many business leaders, angry at the attacks and the idea that they may precipitate a recession, are trying to reinforce an impression of business as usual. Cisco Systems Inc. Chief Executive John Chambers, expressing “tremendous confidence in the financial systems of our country,” said the computer-networking company will buy back as much as $3 billion in stock over two years. Lucent Technologies Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Henry Schacht told employees in an e-mail that customers are already asking for products to restore damaged services. Charles Holliday, the CEO of DuPont Co., said disruptions of shipments were easing and he expected continuing demand for the chemical maker’s products. Robert Taylor Jr., chairman and chief executive of Focal Communications Corp., said he’ll be on the first flight from Chicago to New York today. “It’s important that I personally demonstrate, and that we as a company demonstrate, this is not going to stop us,” he said. Not all share these views, but I believe brave Americans will win the day against the pessimists and doomsayers.
While the next few trading days or weeks will be tenuous and maybe chaotic at times, history suggests calm and normalcy will return. Significant positive forces will be injected into our economy as a result of Tuesday’s horrors. The government will likely spend billions more than it would have otherwise on defense, infrastructure, technology, and, possibly bailouts of critical industries such as airlines and casualty claims. The Federal Reserve will likely lower rates more aggressively than they planned earlier. A more united congress may be more inclined to act in bipartisan fashion to stimulate investment by lowering capital gains taxes or tax brackets.
The rules have changed. Our lives have changed. Markets do not like uncertainty, but Americans do not like being bullied a whole lot more. American history virtually guarantees that the tough will get going during these challenging times. I believe that patriotism, optimism, and confidence will overcome the dark talk of recession and defeat. There will be challenges to our patience and resolve in the coming days and weeks, but we will get through them.
We are truly blessed to live in the greatest land on earth and to be among the greatest people on earth. Our way of life was viciously attacked on Tuesday and we will never be the same. We will be better. As the world watches, a military response is expected and warranted. But, more importantly, the world is watching the way we return to our lives. Our economy just became the measure of our pride as a nation. If we are the America I know we are, we will show the world a new and stronger America as a memorial to those who lost their lives so senselessly.
God Bless America