Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The State of the Economy: An Athens Perspective

By Whitney Scott

Reporter Whitney Scott on big plans for President Bush

"China is booming, America is budgeting; it's depressing." -Jade Mu-

Everyday Jade Mu lives by a simple message; keep on smiling. Born and raised in China, the Athens restaurant owner moved to the U.S. in 1986. Jade tries to make sure her customers leave uplifted. She keeps her glass half full at local favorite Lui Lui, the best recipe for a dining experience full of charm and a healthy menu.

"We have a lot of fun here, people come in and if they leave with a smile, it's a big success for us," she says excitedly as the restaurant prepares for the dinner rush. It's an easy equation really; flourishing business = satisfaction across the board.

A taste of Lui Lui

But the ingredients aren't mixing well this year at Lui Lui. An economic downturn in the states leaves business undercooked.

Jade Mu shares her frustrations

Jade is not one to panic, but can't help but feel tense. A slowdown in sales, inflated food prices and a dark cloud over Wall Street is no winning combo for the restaurant team. But this is not a big surprise for the experts. In fact, they saw it coming. Forbes Magazine veteran, and Scripps School of Journalism Visiting Professional Mark Tatge says, "What investors and average people need to worry about is the dollar and how it's doing in the marketbasket of currency. If the dollar takes a free fall against the yen... that would be very bad because people would stop investing in America."

Mark Tatge, Veteran Business Reporter/Editor

Now during his final State of the Union Address, President Bush spoke with a strong sense of optimism as he focused much of his speech on the economy. He acknowledged our nation was entering a period of uncertainty, as the dollar weakens and the cost of living rises. However, Mr. Bush insisted that with help of a stimulus package, the United Stated will return to times of prosperity.

"I think President Bush's speech will be a thud," said Tatge. Though he admits to a slight cynical nature when talking about the government, Tatge has spent much of his career in business journalism understanding and explaining the nuts and bolts of the economy. He emphasizes that although he's confident America will once again experience ambitious growth, a recession will pinch the pocketbook in the short-term.

What should the government do differently? That's an easy question for Tatge to answer. He offers steps to get America back on its feet.

1. Formulate a stimulus package dedicated to job creation
2. Pay close attention to the dollar
3. Revamp our infrastructure system

"Our highways and bridges are crumbling, our airports are falling apart," he says while breaking down specific problems the government needs to address. The economic problems are complicated, however, both Jade Mu and Mark Tatge are ready to see the problem solved.

A plea for change

But until then, customers at Lui Lui can always expect one thing; Jade Mu will be smiling.

Reporter Whitney Scott Closing Comment

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