Early Briefing: Will Defense Escape The Downturn?

Many defense contractors are not so sure.

Staff writer Dana Hedgpeth dropped in on a trade show sponsored by the Association of the United States Army and heard lots of concerns that spending could slow as the nation strains under a global economic crisis and as presidential contenders talk about the eventuality of bringing troops home.

Major weapson systems built by the likes of Fall Church's General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin of Bethesda are likely to face new scrutiny.

"There's a lot of uncertainty out there," said Kevin G. Kroger, president of Pura Dyn, a small Boynton Beach, Fla., company, who came to the trade show to pitch the Army on buying more of its oil filters for armored trucks. "We're not sure where the budgets are going and what's going to get funded. It leaves us nervous."

Indeed, in his report on the show, Ron Epstein, an analyst at Merrill Lynch, said vendors acknowledged their worries about the rescue plan. "We expect the bailout plan will put downward pressure on defense spending," Epstein had written a week earlier in a research note to clients.

In other news:

* So half of your retirement savings vaporized in last week's stock market crash and your retirement has been delayed for a decade. You need to relax.

Nora Piroglu, who owns the Skin Beauty Lounge in Capitol Hill, will be participating in Spa Week." Photo courtesy of Skin Beauty Lounge

Spa Week starts Monday in Washington, with 66 spas around the region offering discounts on treatments to most everyone, including beaten-down investors who need to drop that pulse rate. It's part of a nationwide promotion involving 750 spas.

Participating spas can be found here (but fair warning, you'll have to register to see the full list).

* The upscale farmer's market at National Harbor is having difficulty attracting Maryland farmers. Some say they were put off by the elaborate system of rules, the lengthy application process, the requirement that they open their farms to inspection and the weekly fee for participation.

"We just want to sell produce," said Whitney Dawkins, who operates a booth with goods from her boyfriend's farm in St. Mary's County. "We don't want to sign our lives away."

By Dan Beyers  |  October 13, 2008; 8:30 AM ET
Previous: The Download: The NASA Field Trip | Next: Early Briefing: Get A Physical, Get $75


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