How a volatile economy is affecting our day-to-day lives in SWFL

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Credit: WINK News

Thursday was the worst day on Wall Street since the 1987 market crash. The DOW plunged more than 2,300 points losing 10% of its value.

So how is this volatility affecting our day-to-day lives here in Southwest Florida?

One of the biggest hits to our economy is a slow-down for restaurants and shops downtown.

We spoke to a local economist who said we can also see it in commutes. His hour-long drive to work took 20 minutes on Thursday. That’s proof that everyone is changing their patterns of activity.

In SWFL we live off tourism and retirement spending. When that spending stops or slows, like it is now, we’re the first to feel it.

Dr. Shelton Weeks with FGCU says what’s going on is a serious situation and that it’s hard to think that we’re not in the start of a recession.

“It becomes a real threat when people start to believe in it, so as soon as you have a very widespread acceptance that this is a serious situation, people start to alter behavior and that’s what makes it real,” he said.

In 2008, the driver of the crash was debt. In this situation, he says people have money but are afraid to go out and spend it.

“Well, I think if you think about where we normally are during season, at this point— you walk into your favorite restaurant at lunchtime and you have to wait to get a table.
Right now, there’s plenty of tables open,” said Weeks.

At the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau meeting on Thursday, Ben Spiegel with Lee County Port Authority says while it’s business as usual for the most part at the airport, one thing is different: “What we are starting to see, obviously, is less people,” he said.

As for local events, the Lee County manager said they expect to announce Monday that they will stop issuing any additional public events permits for 1,000 people or more.

Weeks added while there is good reason to be concerned, he cautions people not to make knee-jerk reactions that can cost you money in the long run.

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