1. Steven Strauss, president of The Strauss Group Inc.
Why he's an expert: small-business columnist for USAToday, Microsoft and AT&T; author of The Small Business Bible: Second Edition
What he says: "It's taking some time to get contracts out and bids up, but from now until next year you're going to start seeing small businesses reap benefits. It will peak in 2010, and hopefully by then, the economy will be back on the right track."
John Maynard Keynes(pronounced "canes")
1883 to 1946
Title: Economist, Baron of Tilton
Why you should care: In the years following the Great Depression, the Cambridge-educated mathematician-turned-economist revolutionized the field of economics with his book The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. He claimed, to the dismay of England's moneyed class, that free markets sometimes need an occasional boost from the government to remain healthy. (Thank him in another life.) Some say his personal life was unusual, too. Openly gay, Keynes was a self-proclaimed elitist who bemoaned Americans, the French, Jews and, naturally, the working class.
Memorable quote: "If economists could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people on a level with dentists, that would be splendid." -J.W.
Why he's an expert: heads the SBA's highest lending-volume office in the country, overseeing a loan portfolio of approximately $1 billion
What he says: "When the stimulus bill was signed, the devil was in the details. People are beginning to see the details rolling out, and we feel very positive about what's going to happen. We'll see a lot of improvements, and with the programs that have been announced, the markets will start to move."
3. Jeff Rosensweig, associate professor of International Business and Finance at Emory University's Goizueta Business School
Why he's an expert: director of the university's Global Perspectives Program; former senior global economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
What he says: "The stimulus hasn't hit yet, but I think the economy will bottom out in the fourth quarter of 2009. I don't see a rapid rebound after we hit bottom; it's more of a muddling along the bottom and then very slowly rising in 2010. The silver lining is it's an employer's market."
4. Al Gordon, CEO of business-to-government consulting firm National Strategies LLC
Why he's an expert: former chairman of the New York State Democratic Committee; former senior staff member for New York Governor Mario Cuomo
What he says: "The bill talks about giving preference for dollars to be spent within the first 120 days of the bill's passage, so the biggest impact will probably come when the projects are finished later this year and next year. You'll certainly see improvements as a result of this by year's end."
5. Theresa Alfaro Daytner, president and CEO of Daytner Construction Group
Why she's an expert: steered her multimillion company into federal contracting work, which now makes up 50 percent of her business
What she says: "It's not going to be generic across the board, but I think the stimulus is going to go a long way toward helping create jobs in the next few months. I can see it playing out the way that crafters of the legislation are hoping: If businesses get contracts, there will be dollars flowing and jobs created."