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October 8, 2008

Jeff Feingold is Editor of NH Business Review's print and on-line editions. He has been a business journalist for more than 25 years, and recognized by the Small Business Administration as National Small Business Journalist of the Year.

Forgive me for taking so long to get started on this. But itís taken me a while to stop hiding under my bed to avoid the plague of disastrous news inflicted upon us in the weeks since our elected leaders finally learned that thereís a financial crisis and that they were the ones picked to do something about it.

While Wall Street is hundreds of miles from the Sunapee area, and London, Tokyo, Hong Kong and the rest thousands more away, the effects of the international financial crisis are already being felt here, and thereís a lot more to come.

From shrunken retirement investments to a drop in visitors during foliage and ski seasons to higher interest rates for borrowing by municipalities and schools, there are plenty of other shoes to drop in the coming weeks and months.

While banks in the area as well as around New Hampshire say they have plenty of money to lend, itís not certain how many businesspeople are in the market to borrow, save those who need to make payroll, perhaps, or retailers looking to stock up on inventory for the holiday season. (And letís not get started on THAT outlook.)

While, despite all the justifiable doom and gloom emanating from television and other media, itís not quite time to push the panic button. But thatís not stopping some people.

I heard an unfortunate story recently about an older Manchester resident Ė a man who had lived through the Great Depression -- who walked into a bank there and demanded his money, in cash Ė all $170,000 of it. Despite being told that his money was perfectly safe Ė it had already been set up to be fully insured, even before the bigger $250,000 Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. cap was approved Ė he insisted.

Since it was his money, and his right to take it, bank officials told him to come back the next day and theyíd have his cash for him, likely hoping that he would think it over and change his mind.

He didnít. The next day he entered the bank, and there it was, all $170,000. They tried explaining yet again how the bank was a safer place than wherever he was thinking of keeping it. But he insisted and walked out the door, with his money. I just hope he wasnít taking the Manchester city bus.

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