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Small, Struggling & Some Sunlight

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Small businesses are feeling slightly better, but overall the level remains well below those seen more than a decade earlier. The NFIB is one of the best report cards on small businesses, and the narrative doesn’t change. The deck is stacked against them, and yet, they heroically create the bulk of new jobs.


Today’s report is a mixed bag that ultimately echoes the fact the economic backdrop is still too weak for a big economic boom. Guess the Fed’s trillions didn’t find a way to small business coffers.

There are lots of elements of the NFIB report to consider, however, I would think the 25% of companies looking to make capital outlays is the best news from the report.

Along with expectations of this being a good time to expand, it speaks to a greater sense of job growth further down the road.

The problems for small businesses are pretty clear – a lack of higher sales and also the lack of talented workers. It’s a complaint of large businesses, too.

Of course high taxes and miles of government regulations and red tape will be an issue for small businesses under this administration, but that spike in “quality of labor” is a red flag nobody wants to discuss.

Last week, I had the pleasure of chatting with Jack Welch, former head of GE, and one of the best CEOs of the past century.

I complained about our education system not producing more native-born doctors.

He feels that the smartest grads are going into engineering, but it still can’t explain the dearth of native born talent from engineering to medicine to even truck drivers.



I’m seeing lots of attempts to bottom fish, but most are fading, setting up the last hour of trading to be a doozy. I doubt the major indices will limp out of the session. There are two dynamics.

There are trillions of sideline dollars that missed a series of rallies now looking for a chance to “buy the dip.”

The economic data and comments from the handful of companies that have already reported aren’t encouraging. Not awful, but the inability to shed positive light on their own company and industries, only adds to the overall angst.

I’m really grappling with forcing it here as there are a dozen names that look very attractive, but I would rather feel like the coast was clearer before using free cash.


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