The Economy Today: It’s Wild Out There

Headlines from California, Colorado, New Jersey, Maryland, and elsewhere

In national news, we learn that some banks may be ready to repay the government funds that bailed them out. According to The Washington Post Chase, Goldman Sachs, and American Express are among the firms who are expected to seek permission to return the money that came with tight restrictions, including limits on executive pay. As some banks are trying to escape close regulation, the Obama administration will propose the creation of a “compensation czar” position, tasked with watching over companies that received federal bailouts, The New York Times reports.

The Times and Reuters offer two stories about how the recession is affecting parents and children. In New York’s hip-and-happening Williamsburg neighborhood, young adults can no longer expect to have their rents subsidized by wealthy parents, who are cutting back because of the financial crisis, the Times writes. Reuters, meanwhile, sees another indicator of economic recovery: back-to-school sales. Although it’s only June, some retailers are already thinking about how many new backpacks and TrapperKeepers they’re going to sell next September. Parents could cut back if the economy doesn’t recover.

Local headlines reveal half a dozen regional industries that are adversely impacted by the economic downturn. In Colorado, the wild horse population is going unchecked because people can’t afford to keep these animals. In California, the wine industry is hurting. And, in Kansas, amusement parks may shutter.

New Jersey’s consumers are becoming more assertive, haggling for lower prices and using the “troubled economy as leverage,” The Star Ledger reports. While the practice was generally reserved for “new cars, real estate and items at flea markets,” now customers are looking for bargains on everything. Some shoppers are reluctant to haggle, others revel in the practice.

A fancy wine auction in California collected only half of what it earned in 2007, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. Auction Napa Valley is considered “one of the nation’s most lavish charity blitzes,” but the recession forced organizers to scale down the event when RSVPs were low. The Los Angeles Times finds that fewer couples are using expensive in vitro fertilization because of lost income and insurance coverage.

The stock market’s roller coaster ups and downs may be enough for people looking for a thrill, because the Chicago Tribune notices that amusement parks around the country are seeing a drop in attendance, and new projects are abandoned when funds dry up. Wild West World in Kansas cost $30 million to build, only to close when low turnout and shady business practices doomed the operation.

According to the Aspen Daily News, wild horse adoptions were once popular in the region. Now the appeal of such an endeavor is diminishing as pinched equine enthusiasts cut back on their costs. Colorado’s Bureau of Land Management current has 30,000 wild horses and burros that were taken from the wild. Usually, these horses would be adopted, but the recession has forced locals to cut back, even though the BLM sponsors a program that tames wild horses for life with people. The Greeley Tribune says that “ma and pa shops” are hurt by the recession. A bakery, a deli, and a coffee shop have closed in downtown Greeley.

We’ve all heard about the devastation in the newspaper industry, but the Baltimore Sun reports that local media outlets are cutting back as well. Part of the reason is a huge drop in revenue: “Radio advertising recently had its worst quarter on record, declining 26 percent. TV ad sales are down 9.2 percent overall for the first quarter.” Stations may consider content sharing agreements. Ad sales are down because car companies, who usually buy a hefty chunk of air time, are struggling to get by.

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Katia Bachko is on staff at The New Yorker.