Ralf HallerRalf Haller July 17, 2009

How are things going in the U.S.? Impressions from a 10-day trip

I just came back from a 10-day business trip to the U.S. having been on the west coast mainly.
It is obvious that the economy has been hurting for quite a while now. This can be seen literally on the street with less traffic (relatively speaking only as it is still bad in peak times), areas such as south of Seattle where whole neighborhoods seem to be up for sale (hundreds of meters of For Sale signs) and stories of startups who can’t get any funding anymore at all, plus people struggling to find new jobs.
Still I got the clear feeling that the bad times have hit the bottom and that things are improving.
Also the latest financial results from companies like Intel or IBM show this clearly. Not to mention
the stock market where the NASDAQ had a big rise this week, so folks are speculating that it will get better too.
One ex-colleague of mine who used to live in Silicon Valley and went back to Switzerland 6 years ago, has decided to move back to the U.S. and bought a house in Mountain View for his family (3 kids) just this Monday. He told me that he got already quite a few job offers, which makes him believe that there are options for him. In Europe he could never find a challenging HW engineering job in the datacom industry and had the feeling that most Swiss companies he talked to were very stagnant, doing the same as they did more than 10 years ago and happy with that – but of course being hit hard now due to their inflexible business attitude. House prices are low so he might do quite well I think. Still, banks are asking for 60% down payments as in his case, which is ridiculous of course.

(Photo credit: www.pbase.com/camera0bug/image/13107594)