What effect does the partisan bickering in Washington have on consumer confidence and ultimately on how well flooring products sell?John WellsIt is a given that industry in general, and our industry in particular, thrives when the economy thrives. Consumer confidence is influenced by pressing issues that impact our national economy—rising debt, monetary policy and a general inability to execute long-term fiscal policy—and that, in turn, has an overall dampening effect on business confidence and impacts long-term investment. As a result, it gives pause and uncertainty to those who would otherwise fund projects that involve our products, particularly for the corporate office market. This uncertainty likely creates shorter cycles for capital decisions, or shorter-term thinking, which would impact momentum and pace of spending. That said, while we are waiting for Washington to work together to find long-term solutions to these issues, we are working with customers on solutions that function in the current economic environment.John Wells is president and CEO of Interface Americas with responsibility for Flor, InterfaceServices and Interface in the United States, Canada and Latin America. Wells joined Interface in 1994 as vice president of sales. Prior to joining Interface, he worked with Shaw Industries for 13 years. Art DodgeFlooring purchases, both residential and commercial, are planned. Because these are not impulse purchases, these decisions depend far more on perceptions about the overall health of the economy and key indicators such as employment, disposable income, consumer confidence, interest rates, household formation, home values and population growth. These factors, as opposed to individual views on how functional our federal legislative process happens to be, are paramount in determining behavior.That said, with over $1 trillion in cash to invest, the largest U.S. corporations will be critical catalysts in sustaining growth. Unless policymakers and financial institutions instill confidence in the future direction of the economy and provide the financial incentives for c-suite executives and corporate boards to invest, the current economic recovery will continue to underperform expectations. Arthur Dodge III is chairman of the board, CEO and president of Ecore International, where he has worked since 1989. Previously, he was employed by Shearson Lehman of Lancaster, Pennsylvania; by Bain & Co. of London, England; and by The Dodge Company Inc., also based in Lancaster. Frank ReadyGridlock creates uncertainty, which dampens consumer confidence and business/government investment in infrastructure, education, healthcare and other critical areas. The result is a sluggish economy, which has a direct impact on demand for both residential and commercial floor products.Consumers who don’t feel good about the direction of the country, are uneasy about their own employment or uncertain about the value of their home are much less likely to invest in remodeling or buy a new home. Likewise, a business uncertain of future monetary or tax policy is less likely to invest in capital projects, add more workers or develop programs that are needed to spur economic growth.Gridlock creates uncertainty, which reduces investment and, ultimately, demand for our products.
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