The Fed cut rates by quarter point Tuesday December 11th

In a highly anticipated move, The Fed cut interest rates Tuesday by a quarter point.  The only problem was that the anticipation was for a half point and the market was let down as evidenced by the Dow’s plunge of 300 points.

It is down from 4.5 to 4.25%.  The Fed hopes to ward off a recession and give the economy a boost in light of the housing slump and industry mortgage troubles.

Bernanke left the door open for another rate cut during Q1 2008 if need be.

Read article.

Will the Fed slash rates again this week?

Since the rate cut in October, “credit has become harder to obtain, Wall Street has convulsed again and the housing slump has intensified,” according to the Associate Press.  The rate, now at 4.5% is expected to be cut again this week in an effort to pump more money into the economy, curb the growing housing slump, and ward off an economic depression.  If this happens, it would be expected that commercial banks would lower their prime lending rate, now at 7.5%.

Entire article click here: Fed Seems Poised to Lower Interest Rates 

One of the comments on The Huffington Post stated ” The Fed has determined to print and lend more paper money in an effort to delay the impending economic bubble burst. Since the interest rate spread between what banks and institutional lenders pay the Fed and what they charge their borrowers is so great, there really is no need to lower the rate. The announcement of a Fed rate reduction is simply to advise Wall Street that rather than allow market forces to work, our Govt. will just keep issuing more money to be distributed through the economy. The effect of this policy will cause a free fall in the dollar and runaway inflation. ”  I don’t know that I disagree.

As much as I would like to agree that dropping insurance rates would turn around the market that we are in, I just don’t think that will work.

What are your thoughts?

Will Disney and Universal be coming here afterall?

This past week I was sent a document presentation of our area and the future planned growth that we will see in the coming years. It was put together by Accrue Planning. I couldn’t find anything about them on the web, but I decided to post it anyway. There is some good information, but there is also other information that I’m not sure how accurate it is. When I say I couldn’t find any information on the web, I should have been more specific in that I couldn’t find a website.

The document cites that there are no inventory, franchise, or state-level property taxes in our area and that our area remains to be attractive for businesses. Discussed in the 78,000 acre, master-planned West Bay Sector Plan by St. Joe and the new airport. Also discussed is the possibility of FedEx and UPS relocating their international operations centers here. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that has been confirmed.

The Gulf Coast Parkway will stretch from 231 to 98, just west of Mexico Beach and will improve hurricane evacuation, open up more development opportunities and reduce traffic through Tyndall Air Force Base. The Gulf Coast Parkway is also expected to open up travel corridors from the East Bay area to the new Airport.

Currently, Highway 79 is undergoing a transformation to a four-lane highway up to I-10 and there are plans to widen highway 77 up to I-10 as well. Actually, this could have already happened or begun already. My travels do not take me up that road.

Also in the document in information about Disney and Universal Studios coming to our area. I know nothing of the validity of this information, but they are claiming that 55,000 acres known as “Moody Pastures” is under contract and that Disney has spent money on the site. Also discussed is the possibility of Universal coming to the East Bay area.

Once gain, I feel it necessary to note that I was unable to find information on the publisher of this document and I do not endorse the validity of the information it contains.

Here is the link to the document: Northwest Florida Future Development

TDC Meeting Notes – Possible Bed Tax Increase

Notes from the TDC Bed Tax Committee Meeting on Wednesday 12/5/2007.

4 of the 7 committee members were present. Absent were Mike Nelson, Andy Phillips, and Russ Smith.

State of Panama City Beach: President Dan Rowe made a short presentation on the state of our tourism industry. This included the changing destination, the airport relocation, the changing customer base and other challenges facing the industry. He believes that both new and existing resources must be used to both retain and enhance occupancy and rate integrity during this dynamic time.

Tie-In between the Bed Tax Discussion and the Strategic Plan Framework: President Rowe discussed the Strategic Plan Retreat that is scheduled for January. The plan is designed to answer: 1. Where we want to go as a destination in the next 3-5 years? and 2. How do we get there?. Rowe suggested that the committee defer further discussion about a possible bed tax increase until the strategic plan was complete. He suggested that the committee instead concentrate on bed tax compliance and reporting in the near term. Rowe suggested that the board encourage the accommodations industry to work with Smith Travel Research so that more accurate rate and occupancy data would be available. He explained that Smith protects the confidentiality of all reported data and would only report composite data. The committee also discussed the problems with the current rate and occupancy data being compiled by the HAAS Center due to the small number of participating parties. The President advised that Smith could make a presentation to the industry about their services to help alleviate concerns about providing proprietary occupancy and rate data.

2005 Bed Tax Collectors Survey: Rowe suggested that the committee delay distributing the 2005 Bed Tax Collectors Survey at least until after the Strategic Plan Framework is complete. No objections were voiced to Rowe’s suggestion.

Meeting notes are courtesy of Bryan J. Durta. Thanks Bryan.

Halt on Panama City Airport Construction

A Federal Judge in New York issued an order on Thursday to temporarily block construction of the new Panama City Airport until a formal hearing can be held on December 18th.  The Friends of PFN, the Defenders of Wildlife, and the Natural Resources Defense Council sued the FAA last year to turn over the Record of Decision the FAA issued for the construction of the new airport in West Bay.

It is expected on December 18th that they will quickly rule on whether a permanent stay will be enacted.  The News Herald was kind enough to host the motion for stay document, it can be found here.

Other information on the airport relocation can be found here. 

I want to encourage discussion.  When I first started more than a year ago, the airport relocation was all over the news.  I had tons of people opposing the relocation post comments, and I don’t remember one valid point.

One example was the opposing argument that we don’t need a new airport, the one we have is at half capacity, so much so that new airlines won’t even come.  Our airport is at half capacity, that is a fact.  BUT, you have to realize, most people don’t fly out of here.  I don’t know one person (and I know many that travel) that flies out of here voluntarily except on the rare occasion it is cheaper to fly out of here than drive to Ft. Walton or Tallahassee.  Almost at any given time, it is double to fly out of PFN than it is from VPS.  Am I going to drive 90 minutes to save 200 bucks?  You bet I am, and so is everyone else.  And, new airlines won’t even think about coming here because the runway does not currently meet FAA standards for a safe landable runway.

Opposition: what about the 4,000 acres of land that is going to be cleared, paved, built upon, developed, etc.?   You mean the St. Joe-owned land that had been used to FARM pine trees for the production of paper and was harvested every 10 to 20 years for decades.  The land that eventually could be homes, office buildings, etc.?  What about the 14,000 acres donated specifically for conservation including almost all of the waterfront shoreline of the West Bay area (I don’t need to say, the most valuable).  What about the waters in the bay system and the estuary that would be damaged if the current runway was extended out into the bay to make the current runway up-to-standards?  After all, the environmentalists had a problem with this too years ago.  What are we supposed to do?  We can’t bring the existing airport up to code and can’t build a new one?

Tell me, opposition, what do you suggest?

This week in Pier Park – Pictures

Pier Park is getting very close to completion. I love the bright colors and the architectural accents. Margarittaville is really starting to take shape, you can now see the sunset outside dining deck (on the second floor). Also, there is considerable construction taking place at the back of the property towards Back Beach Road. More pictures to come soon.