The markets are seesawing, the big banks are panicking, and W. is throwing U.S. taxpayers a $300 – $1,200 bone. At my age (27 as of next week), I couldn’t be happier.
Don’t get me wrong, listening to an episode of Marketplace or watching CNBC can be downright depressing these days. Left and right, Americans are losing their homes, stocks are deflating, and unemployment is creeping up. On top of all that, of course, is oil. (I predict an average of $3.50 for a gallon of gasoline by July and $4.00 in a year. Any takers?)
Whether the current downturn lasts another month or several years, however, we need to remember to put things into perspective. Economies, like the markets that drive them, go up and down. That is just what economies do. Our grandparents survived the Great Depression, and all those guys who made and lost millions in the dot com bubble are here to fight another day.
Perspective is not easy if you’re losing your home or your job, but it is possible. For the optimistic and the resourceful, there will be another home. There will be new work.
If you are young, like me, and still have a roof over your head (even if you don’t own it) and a job; today’s economic climate spells opportunity.
Interest rates are plunging: perhaps it is an opportunity to get a lower rate on any unpaid credit card balances.
In most areas of the country, real estate is cheap. It might be time to find a bargain property. (Though you may need flawless credit, given lenders’ recent missteps);
And, it’s a great time to buy stocks. Snatch up those sinking securities. Even if you don’t have thousands to dump into the market, up your 401k or IRA contributions a few points this year. Don’t worry if stocks continue to slide after you make a buy – you’re investing for at least 30 years!
Even if the economy gets as bad as the media fears, there will always be new opportunities. The only question is: Will you look for opportunities in the adversity? If not, prepare yourself for the alternative—utter submission to an unfounded fear.