Back in the Classroom
Tonight starts my 24th year at Virginia Tech, with 150 students in a 3-hour evening class in Small Business and Entrepreneurship. I like teaching this class because it gets me outside of agriculture for 15 weeks. And it was in this class 11 years ago that Barbzilla, my research assistant, enrolled. Little did she know that she was sealing her fate to track down all the agricultural information I would need over the years.
Economy Maxed Out
The economy continues to weaken, despite Mr. Greenspan’s best efforts to lower interest rates. The United States spending boom – the result of credit cards and home equity loans – could be at the end of its rope.
Nearly half of borrowers with loan mortgages will add to their loan balancing in 2001, according to Fannie Mae economists. Home equity has declined from 80 percent in 1952 to approximately 55 percent in 2001, despite strong values. Homeowners could walk away with $55 billion in refinancing this year, which could exceed the impact of $38 billion in tax rebates.
If unemployment soars to 5.5 percent, home values start to level off or decline, and banks tighten credit, the party could be over.
North "Worst" Airlines
Detroit Metro has to be one of the five ugliest airports in America. If you fly into the commuter airline terminal to Concourse G, they bus you in something that resembles a cattle gooseneck or cattle carrier. The diesel fumes are awful!
The other evening we stood in the bus for 42 minutes packed with no air conditioning. Next we got on an overbooked airplane. We needed seven volunteers to deplane and got one. Then the airline personnel started selecting people to delay according to their check-in time. People were mad because they received only a $400 fee for being bumped. Needless to say, 3 hours later with not even a free drink offer, we made it to our destination. Maybe we need a good recession!
Lifestyle is Driving Business Model
In a Michigan young farmers institute, I talked to yet another couple who indicated they had forgone expansion because time and family was more important. Major conflicts of the early 21st Century are appearing all over. Margin vs. time and lifestyle!
Last year I picked against Oklahoma. This year I am not sure. However the team with the strong defense is the one that gets hot at the end of the year and wins it all.
So here is how I see it:
Pac-10 vs. Big East in the Rose Bowl
Sleeper teams: Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech
And, no team will go undefeated
Next week I will be reporting back from Blacksburg and my first college class of the season. I am going to ask them about their favorite picks on Web sites. Let’s see who rates!
It is not just the weather that causes the skies to be unfriendly. Will somebody out there please do something about these darn airlines?!
My e-mail address is: [email protected] 
Editors' note: Dave Kohl, Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist at Virginia Tech. He currently is on sabbatical and working with the Royal Bank of Canada.
To see Dave Kohl's previous road warrior adventures type Dave Kohl in the Search blank at the top of the page.