The Bulletin has an editorial this morning which portrays the underlying thinking I think our political, economic, and media leaders have here in Bend.
The opening paragraph: "Now is the time to start thinking about a return of rapid growth in Central Oregon. Did we do it well last time around? What can we do better when it returns?"
"When it returns....?" Not if, but when.
If you look up the definition of an economic bubble, one of it's features is extrapolating future growth based on past growth.
I doubt we'll ever see the kind of growth we saw in the late 90's and early 2000's, because it was based on inflated housing prices. We'll probably never see that kind of bubble again in our lifetimes.
In all the bubbles I've been involved in at my store(fads, if you will), not one has ever returned. Once they burst, they are gone. They may come crawling back, taking years to cover the same ground that once took months.
It wasn't long ago, that most of the economists were worried about a deflationary spiral. A negative feedback loop. Which is also a feature of burst economic bubbles.
The Bulletin asks for "smart" leadership, "thinking about increased infrastructure."
But what if the smart move is to wait to spend on infrastructure until you actually have a need for it?
H. Bruce had this comment:
"Did you see the Bulletin editorial this morning telling us we need to get ready for the next growth spurt? Bend will never get off the roller coaster of boom-and-bust because the powers that be -- the Builder-Developer-Realtor Axis and its toadies in the media -- don't want to. They'd rather have the chance to make a killing during the booms than have sustainable prosperity. Why? Because they have the resources to ride out the busts. It's only "the little people" who lose their homes and livelihoods when the bubble bursts."
I don't think we're going to have another boom for a long time to come. If we're lucky, we'll take baby steps toward small growth. I'm thinking a decade, not a few years.
I'm not saying we shouldn't plan. The Bulletin is right about that: but I think the planning needs to be more in the nature of contingency -- instead of outright spending on infrastructure we may not need for years and years.
The one thing they probably should do is probably the one thing they won't do: make growth pay for growth. Put into place fees that make whoever does the future development pay for the development. I predict that the trend will be the opposite, just like last time. The pressure will be to lower the fees to spark development.
Thus creating the very problems the Bulletin is warning against.
Mostly, I just wanted to point out that I think even thinking about "rapid growth" is way too premature. Any growth would be nice.
"Rapid" is relative, I suppose. But I would be willing to bet that we'll never again see the rate of growth we saw during the boom years.
It's like an addiction. It will also take years for those who experienced the boom to realize it ain't coming back.
5 days ago