Tulsa Economist: Shutdown Won't Do Much Long-Term Damage If It Ends Soon

Friday, October 11th 2013, 6:13 pm
By: News On 6

Eleven days later, and there's still no deal to end the partial government shutdown. Instead, lawmakers are focusing on raising the nation's debt limit before the U.S. defaults. That could happen in five days.

Republican leaders have proposed a short-term, debt hike, but the government would remain closed. Meanwhile, they hope negotiations on spending cuts can continue.

The White House says both sides need to keep talking.

One Tulsa economist said the shutdown may not have any long-lasting effects, if it ends soon.

Jim Huntzinger with BOK Financial said the key to surviving the shutdown is for consumers to just go about their business as usual. He said the economy was doing very well before the government shutdown and to keep it that way he said it's important for consumers to stay confident.

The driving force of the economy comes in the form of day-to-day transactions.

The American consumer, according to Jim Huntzinger of BOK Financial, makes up 2/3 of our country's Gross National Product.

10/9/2013 Related Story: Tulsa Mother Worried WIC Funding Will Run Out During Government Shutdown

"So it's important how you and I as individuals behave, whether we shop and buy clothes and cars and houses and carpets and all of that stuff, matters more than business spending," Huntzinger said.

The federal government shutdown is on the eve of its 12th day and that consumer spending seems to remain business as usual.

Jordan Hix, who works at a Tulsa Vintage Stock store said, "Just doing what we always do, haven't seen a slow down of people purchasing things or people selling things, renting things--just another day.

Huntzinger said past government shutdowns did not have any long-term negative effects on the economy and he said, as long as Congress doesn't let it last too much longer that should be the case this time around.

His biggest concern is the approaching debt ceiling deadline on October 17, 2013.

He said that's the date Americans need to circle on their calendars.

"If we have to quit paying bills, that means interest and principle on our debt. It means, potentially anyway, Social Security, Medicare, all government spending would cease," Huntzinger said.

Huntzinger said he's worried the shutdown and debt ceiling deadline may have shaken Americans' confidence in the economy and he hopes lawmakers reach an agreement soon.

"It's important for us to get past this impasse, because it has business people and consumers focused on what's going on in Washington and not on their own businesses," he said.

Huntzinger estimates that a three-week shutdown of the federal government would have a less than 1-percent impact on the country's economy.