The stock market rout that began in September and picked up steam in October has taken some quality companies to prices that
are the cheapest they have been in decades.
Indianapolis-area hospitals have suffered a double whammy of spiking interest rates on their bonds and heavy losses in their
investment portfolios and are trying to save cash any way they can.
The big debt payments on the $1.1 billion midfield terminal at Indianapolis International Airport start coming due in January–just
as a recession hits and the battered airline industry cuts capacity. Despite the likely prospect of fewer passengers than
projected in the next year or two, airport managers say they don’t anticipate problems shouldering the roughly $40 million
a year in debt burden over the next 30 years for the new facility.
Indiana’s most seasoned entrepreneurs aren’t standing idly by as the nation slides into what many economists believe will
be the deepest recession since the early 1980s.
The downturn in the housing market isn’t tough just on people trying to sell their homes. It’s also tough on the people
who want to help those people sell their homes–real estate agents. Locally, their ranks have thinned as
more and more leave the field to search for better prospects.
Local companies that rely on credit have seen their borrowing power shrink and in some cases disappear as a deep freeze
in the nation’s credit markets drives fears of a broad economic slowdown. A handful of businesses, including
a Greenwood security firm and an Indianapolis contractor, already have shut down after credit dried up,
and others are on the ropes as troubled banks seek to limit their loan exposure.
Stock markets are falling, jobs are disappearing, and the outlook for the economy seems grim. Banks, real estate developers,
retailers and manufacturers are taking the worst hits, but all types of businesses in central Indiana are hurting. From health
care to technology, education to philanthropy, every industry is trying to take the setbacks in stride.
On a typical Saturday at Smock Golf Course on the city’s south side, visitors are treated to a symphony of thwacks, pings
and the occasional plunk. In good or bad economic times, it seems, people in Indiana and across the country have always played
golf. But these days, the sound of that symphony has waned. Nationwide, the number of rounds of golf played through the first
half of this year is down 2 percent from last year. In Central Indiana, the situation is worse.
Domestic automakers were already scheming about new ways to chop dealers–cutting costs to service them–as their market share
drained to Toyota and other foreign competitors. Now, an economy standing on the brakes could drive another round of dealer
consolidations that might not be a good deal for family-owned peddlers of metal.
A depression in the home-building market has claimed a Fishers builder and continues to hammer locally based Davis Homes LLC–a
powerhouse for years that now is facing foreclosure on about 80 home sites.
The CEO of locally based Lauth Group Inc. says most people he knows in the business, even the steely types who always project
optimism, are privately nervous about the economic morass that began with a collapse in subprime mortgages.
ITT Educational Services Inc. and other for-profit schools are facing a maelstrom of financial threats that analysts say could
hurt student recruiting and profit margins–and already has driven stock prices down sharply. ITT shares are off 61 percent
since hitting an all-time high of $131.82 in November.
At the market’s peak, builders churned out more than 12,000 new homes a year in central Indiana. In the current slump, new-home
production has dropped to fewer than 7,000 per year, leaving builders with no choice but to slash prices, eliminate hundreds
of jobs, and look to unload huge chunks of office space.
The sliding value of the U.S. dollar is boosting financial results for some of Indiana’s big exporters. The dollar recently
hit its lowest point in 15 years against an index of other major currencies, such as the euro, the Chinese yuan and Canadian