No thaw

A snapshot from the heartland: a funny thing happened on the way to the building site:

According to [Shelbyville, Indiana city building commission] records, only 115 building permits were issued by the city last year. That is almost half the number issued the year before and a third of the total issued in 2005, two years before the bottom fell out of the housing industry. …

[J]ust four single-dwelling homes were built in the city last year, and three of those were at the new Twin Lakes housing development in the southeast portion of the city. In 2008, 46 single-family homes were built, and 60 the year before that. In 2005, companies built 170 single-family homes in Shelbyville.

That’s a drop from $59 million in new home construction to about $2.5 million last year in our town of about 18,000 people. The city building commissioner was quoted as saying the phones are ringing, but developers say banks won’t lend on new projects.

Wasn’t that the point of TARP? According to the Fed, bank lending contracted by $1.5 trillion in 2009. Meanwhile, banks are stashing that cash in their vaults, increasing their reserves from $45 billion to $1.1 trillion over the last year.

The billions of tax dollars that Presidents Bush and Obama took from us, promising it would thaw frozen credit markets, haven’t made it back here to Small Town USA. I suggest home constructors, general contractors, and small town building commissioners stage a Viking raid on Wall Street. Loot, pillage, maybe trap a few investment bankers (in the 17th century sense of “trapping”) for their expensive suits.

Think about it: Wall Street bankers took our money and won’t even lend it back to us at interest.

Pillaging is really starting to sound like a good idea.

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