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November 2009

A Letter from the Comptroller

I was a young girl in 1957, the final year of the historic drought that gripped Texas for most of that decade. It was also the year I got my first pair of sunglasses. And yes, the two are related.

Susan Combs

A drought is always debilitating. But that one was particularly bad.

At my family’s ranch in Marathon, it was dry for so long that the grass just vanished – burned up, broke off and blew away. The bare caliche ground glared so brightly it was blinding. That’s when I started wearing sunglasses.

I remember asking my father whether I should get shades tinted green or gray. The gray ones give you a more realistic view of the world.

Those who know me won’t be surprised that I chose gray.

Looking at Texas realistically, almost a fifth of the state was in an “exceptional” drought in August – and the whole state (the whole world, for that matter) has been in a financial drought for the past year.

As I write this, it’s raining. It’s too soon to know whether either drought has broken.

In this issue of Fiscal Notes, we address the drought that has parched much of Texas. We also revisit the perennial ups and downs of the oil industry.

Meanwhile, we at the Comptroller’s office are keeping an eye on the economy. Each month, the back pages of this publication are dedicated to key Texas economic indicators.

Governments worldwide are watching to see what American consumers do as authorities try to put their financial houses in order.

Economists are debating whether baby boomers will return to enthusiastic consumerism – or become penny-pinchers.

I suspect they’ll take fewer big vacations. They may not buy as many second homes. They’ll work longer to invest in themselves and their families.

But I know this: droughts end. And when they do, if you’ve taken care of the land, the grass returns.

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