A planned community called Connerton just north of us is trying to come back to life after being dormant since the crunch began. By this time 6,300 homes would have been built; fewer than 300 were completed when the project stalled. Four builders have built model homes and four to six homes on spec. The builders are West Bay, Taylor Morrison (TMHC), Ryland Homes (RYL) and M/I Homes (MHO).
While this is promising, the models seem to be priced above what Tampa Bay families can afford. Tampa Bay has been gaining jobs, but these jobs are lower-paying than the ones lost during the recession. In addition, real home buyers are being outbid at the last minute by investors building pools of homes for renters. A real estate agent told me about one family going to contract that was outbid three times by investors at the last minute. This family gave up and rented a home instead of buying.
Small businesses, particularly eateries, are having difficulties staying in business. One local restaurant had three different owners since we moved to the area in June 2009. This one is closed again.
I received an email from one of our favorite seafood restaurants on Tuesday, saying it is closed for business. This restaurant has been a flourishing small business for 12 years and has been voted Tampa Bay's best seafood restaurant several times over the years. The owner blamed constantly increasing costs and wages as the reason for closing. This week 40 people are looking for new jobs.
The policies of CEO Bernanke have reduced incomes for savers, forced folks to settle for lower-paying jobs or fewer hours worked, and are making the purchase of a home more difficult on the Main Streets I am familiar with in Tampa Bay. Bernanke says that inflation is under control, but on Main Street, the cost of living is on the rise. I can only hope that the next Fed chief and CEO for the U.S. economy agrees with former CEO Paul Volcker, who explained in a speech this week the effect of the various forms of quantitative easing has been "limited and diminishing." At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Follow @Suttmeier This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.