ALEX CHADWICK, host:
As Washington struggles on with this we're checking with some newspapers around the country to see what's going on regionally. First to the Miami Herald and Business Multimedia Reporter, Niala Boodhoo. Niala, welcome to Day to Day. The front page story on your paper today talks about the cost of housing that people face there in Florida. There's this government sort of estimate you should pay 30 percent of your income for housing costs that will allow you to cover all your other expenses that you need, and Florida is higher than any state in renters who pay more than that.
Ms. NIALA BOODHOO (Business Multimedia Reporter, Miami Herald): That's true, and actually it's also a big problem for homeowners as well. I mean, given the cost of property taxes - and hurricane insurance is a huge issue down here - people are finding that, even if they're homeowners, that their payments are just really getting out of control in proportion to their salaries.
CHADWICK: So what do you hear from people, letters to the editor and just, kind of, encounters with people when you go out to talk to them?
Ms. BOODHOO: Frankly, one of the words that I've heard from people, being used over and over again, is people are terrified. One of the big things of the economy here is, a lot of our businesses are small businesses, almost 80 percent of our companies are small businesses, and financing has been a huge problem for companies in the past couple of months. And these aren't companies that are involved in real estate-related businesses.
I'm hearing that people are hopeful, but they're worried that the amount that has been talked about isn't even enough, and they're hoping that somehow - you know, I think people are just really waiting to see how this comes out of Congress, and they're hoping that it'll help the situation here in Miami.
CHADWICK: This word that you used about the attitudes people have, terrified, that's an awful word to use about the economy. What is the sense of people about the prospects for our government leaders solving this problem?
Ms. BOODHOO: I think there's just a lot of caution, a lot of people just are worried to see, sort of, how this will play out in Congress. I think there's also just a lot of uncertainty about the election. A lot of people mentioned that to me, they don't know how things will turn out in November. They don't know what will happen this week, with the bailout, and they're hoping both of those things will improve the situation, but they just don't know.
CHADWICK: Do people seem angry?
Ms. BOODHOO: I think a lot of people are - you know, one of the things, there's actually a big protest that's planned today, in front of the Federal Reserve Bank, and it's a group called ACORN, and they advocate for low-wage workers. One of the things they're most angry about is they're concerned that, in this bailout package, that CEO compensation will not be capped. And I think there is a lot of anger about the amount of money that big executives at large corporations made. And people, sort of very naturally, ask the question, why is it that people are able to walk away with these big packages when people here are just struggling to make their rent payments?
CHADWICK: Niala Boodhoo is a business reporter for the Miami Herald, speaking with us from Miami. Niala, thank you.
Ms. BOODHOO: Thank you.
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
Teresa Murray is here now. She's a personal finance columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and I understand you've had your own problems with housing prices there in Cleveland.
Ms. TERESA MURRAY (Columnist, Cleveland Plain Dealer): That's correct. From 2005 to 2007 to the county we saw a 25 percent decline in home values. And if you back out the city of Cleveland, which has been hurt the worst, it's still an 11 percent decline. So this is including the suburbs. It's everybody.
BRAND: Some houses I understand are going for 3,000 dollars.
Ms. MURRAY: Yes, there are some. Literally, you can't even give them away because people don't even think that they're worth the taxes and the insurance.
BRAND: So, the housing situation and the subprime loans, that's at the root of what's going on on Wall Street, and the proposed 700 billion dollar bailout in Washington, how are people reacting there in Cleveland to that bailout?
Ms. MURRAY: What I can go by is just the feedback that I've gotten from email and voicemail. And I was very surprised. Overwhelmingly, anger. Anger, disgust, just contempt, because people are perceiving this as a bailout of rich Wall Street folks and nothing for the common man. Now I've realized that there may be some parts of this that end up helping homeowners, perhaps, who are late on payments and it remains to be seen; but folks are not perceiving anything that is of value to the community or to the broader economy.
BRAND: How many letters are you getting on this?
Ms. MURRAY: Well, yesterday I got probably a few dozen. Everything from people railing off on, you know, multi, hundred-word, you know, just contempt, and then some people just saying that they were really upset and they wanted to know who to contact.
BRAND: Who to contact in the government?
Ms. MURRAY: Correct, yeah. They think, well, you know, like I have Hank Paulson's cell phone number because they wanted to spend their day calling out to everybody and emailing everybody who they thought might have an opinion or have influence.
BRAND: And what do they offer as a possible solution, if anything?
Ms. MURRAY: Honestly, most of the people who wrote to me did not indicate that they had an alternative. They just didn't want this.
BRAND: They don't want a bailout?
Ms. MURRAY: They don't want a bailout because they see it as saving the shareholders at the expense of taxpayers.
BRAND: I mean, do they see that they're part of it at all? That consumers, for a long time, enjoyed the easy credit that Wall Street provided?
Ms. MURRAY: I don't think they're looking at it like that, nor do I think that folks are looking at it as any kind of benefit potentially to their own 401K, to their own community in terms of jobs, to certainly the broader economy that we're seeing, potential of things crumbling down. I mean, here in North East Ohio we have two of the banks in the country that have been hurt the worst, in particular National City. It has laid off about 10 percent of its workforce.
In the first half of this year it lost almost two billion dollars, mostly because of mortgage issues. If mortgage problems continue, banks including National City, Key Corp, Fifth Third, Huntington, they may end up facing more problems, and that could have an impact on the community. I don't think that any of the folks that I heard from in the last few days have perceived that.
BRAND: Teresa Murray is a personal finance columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Thank you very much.
Ms. MURRAY: Thank you.
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