Can we keep crisis on Wall Street from Main Street?

In spite of numerous bailouts by Washington and the massive infusion of capital (nearly $1 trillion) to Wall Street, conditions remain far from rosy.

If you listen to economic experts, the infusion was necessary to keep many of the larger banking and insurance institutions from collapsing. They say this rescue was necessary and also helped prevent a ripple effect and many additional failings.

So what do we make of the continuing struggle on Wall Street and the continuing decrease in commodities?

The current situation is indicative of the dire situation of the global economy along with our own U.S. economy. Economic experts say all signs point to a rough ride for some time until the credit markets crank up again.

Only this time, the economy is going to continue to suffer. And while the economy suffers, this means lower commodity prices and economic conditions on Wall Street.

?This shows just how bad the current situation is,? said veteran banker John Thaemert, Citizens State Bank and Trust Co. in Ellsworth. ?It?s common to hear people say this was a bailout for bad deeds done on Wall Street, but there?s enough blame to go around for everyone.?

Whether U.S. citizens like it or not, we?re all connected to the financial system. And with credit still locked up, this situation must be corrected and this nation and the world?s confidence restored.

?What we?re seeing today is the fear factor… and it?s continuing to grow,? Thaemert said. The 52-year-old banker also farms in Lincoln County, where he was born and raised. He started farming in 1974 and has been in the financial business for 22 years.

In spite of the credit crisis and the bludgeoning on Wall Street, Thaemert said he believes the rural economy and banks in Kansas remain on solid footing. For many producers, the last two years have been good for them, their communities and Kansas in general.

?Our loans are solid and our customers are in good shape,? the Ellsworth banker said. ?That said, some small businesses are getting messages from their product providers that they may have different terms to deal with as a result of this economic crisis.?

For example, with the tightening of credit, a seed dealer may no longer have 30 days to pay for a seed order. It may be cut to 15 days or the wholesaler may ask for cash in advance before delivery.

?Even though some businesses have a long history of doing business with a vendor, they may soon have to come up with letters of credit from the bank,? Thaemert said. ?This in essence means securing a loan up front that assigns money to the vendor and says the bank will guarantee the funds.?

The Ellsworth banker acknowledges there are hints of this on Main Street in his community and others across Kansas. Thaemert said it?s not rampant or an unnerving situation but everyone knows emotions move markets more than anything.

?In this instance, we in the heartland are on an island of prosperity,? he said. ?We?re looking at the coasts and they are trying to get to higher ground.?

Today with Wall Street in crisis and commodity prices tumbling to nearly half of their earlier highs, people remain cautious and concerned.

This is not a good time to sell grains or oilseeds and cattle prices have been hammered, Thaemert said. He urges his customers not to be driven by emotion.

This is hard to do in these times, but hang in there. This too shall pass.

It?s crucial this country?s economy starts moving in the right direction. This will take time?months, maybe even years.

We should do everything possible to prevent the crisis on Wall Street from becoming a crisis on Main Street.

John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.

More from Hillsboro Free Press
New coffee shop to open in Marion
On Jan. 15, Zera Coffee Marion will have its grand opening from...
Read More