This editorial was written on Tuesday January 20, 2009. In years to come, we’re all keeping our fingers crossed, it will prove to be one of those “where were you on?” days.

Such is the weight of expectation surrounding Barack Obama’s inauguration as US president, that if only a fraction is satisfied, we are witnessing an historic moment.

Probably top of most people’s Obama wish list is that his administration cracks on with its huge capital investment plans, in the hope that a US recovery helps drag the rest of us out of recession. But, of course, if that happens, it will take time, with few expecting America’s “green shoots” to emerge properly until 2010, even with extra billions pumped into public spending.

Many feel, however, that the Obama government will have a more immediate impact on our prospects through the sheer positivity of its “yes, we can” approach. Some may scoff at this, but it’s widely agreed that lack of confidence is playing a greater role in this recession than any since the 1930s. There are some basic economic problems out there, but they’re compounded by people delaying investment decisions because they’re too scared to make them.

Clearly the timber sector and its markets are as affected by this paralysis as any – and hopefully a change in mood, however intangible that is, will start to relieve it.

Judging by our Wood Futures article from Andrew Laver and interview with Tony Miles, the signs that it will are good. Neither pretends the outlook is rosy, but nor do they advocate battening down the hatches. It’s not going to be easy, but now more than ever, they say, is the time for businesses and the industry as a whole to analyse the changing needs of the market, adapt to them and gear up for the future. That will boost trade short term and minimise the risk of being left behind when the general recovery kicks in.

Tony Miles’s “yes, we can” attitude on this is clear. If his children asked whether they should go for a career in timber, he would, he said, tell them to “grab it with both hands”.