For Use Sunday Nov. 1 and Thereafter Wall Street Is A Long Way From Main Street
MONTICELLO Ill. (AP) _ Wall Street’s crash was barely felt in Monticello, where yields on stocks and bonds mean less than yields per acre.
″We’re not invested in stock,″ Joe Daugherty, a farmer, said last week. ″Our money is in land, machinery, input costs and stored grain.″
The 508-point drop in the Dow Jones average Oct. 19 created no sense of panic in this town of 5,000 people surrounded by some of the nation’s richest farmland, though the market’s gyrations did leave some wondering about the shape of the economy and the Reagan administration’s economic policy.
″The part that bothers me the most about the break in the market is that I hope it doesn’t destroy consumer or business confidence ... and slow our growth,″ said Mayor Phillip Blankenburg, a stockbroker in Champaign.
Contractors are beginning to build houses again here, and a new industry is considering moving to Monticello, Blankenburg said. ″We could use the jobs in our little town. Probably half of us drive out every morning. We’d like to become a more complete community.″
″I think there is too big a deficit and it’s a terrible thing,″ said Loren Richards, who lives in a retirement complex. ″It just can’t go on. They’ve got to learn to limit their spending in Washington.″
While farmers felt no immediate threat from the market plunge, they will suffer if attempts to reduce the federal budget deficit result in more taxes, higher interest rates and protectionist trade legislation, said Daugherty and Piatt County Farm Bureau Manager Jack Weisenborn.
The active little retail district surrounding the Piatt County Courthouse also has an eye on the econmomy, even as sales keep pace with last year.
″I’m being a little more cautious with inventories,″ said Craig Webb, who recently bought Kaiser’s Department Store. ″I don’t feel there is a lot I can do personally about the market, and I think a lot of people feel that way.″
At Bill Abbott, a General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Corp. dealership, customer Wayne Messman said he felt stock prices would rebound, and he might consider buying a new car.
Sales manager Steve Reidel said most people seem to feel the same way.
″The Monday it went down, we had some pending transactions that got a little shaky, but by Wednesday, they came back,″ he said. ″My concern is that if interest rates start jumping a half percent at a time, it will put a screeching halt to everything.″
Lois Bond of Pioneer Realty said the drop in the stock market apparently did not scare buyers. ″At the moment, we have more buyers than houses. Deals have been closing, and people are out right now looking at homes,″ she said.
When the stock market nose-dived on Oct. 19, a friend called Frank Wukovets for advice. The 75-year-old Wukovets was a runner on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange at the time of the 1929 crash.
″I told him you can’t do anything - just hold on to what you’ve got,″ said Wukovets. ″We’ve had panics in the past but things come back. You just can’t live beyond your means.″
Most people in a small town like Monticello don’t invest in stocks so they aren’t directly affected by a crisis on Wall Street, he said. ″But you talk about farmers going broke, then they care.″
End Adv Sunday Nov.1