Prepare for dismal with a side of hope.
Sad to say but, the newspaper’s still full of foreclosure notices, unemployment sits uncomfortably high, the markets are jittery and fickle, and governments are cutting back services while considering increasing taxes.
When this downturn started I knew it would last a while, but I’m an optimist. I guessed that some of the systemic inefficiencies in our institutions and attitudes would take years to identify and correct, but I hoped that the real estate market and the job market would recover by now. Fixing the financial system would take longer because of lobbyists. Eliminating other pervasive governmental waste would be best and ideally could be done sooner, but may never disappear. Bureaucracies, the military-industrial complex, and entitlements have astonishingly resilient self-defense mechanisms.
Yet here we sit. The real estate market seems to be held hostage by the financial institutions, who seem to be afraid of their own systems and possibly untrackable assets. Loans aren’t easy, despite very low housing prices. The job market hasn’t gotten worse, but companies aren’t hiring the way they normally would even as profits are pouring in again. No wonder there is plenty of anxiety, and in some cases fear.
Yet, I have hope. Life is not stagnant. The only thing we can truly count on is change. And change is inevitable, especially in America’s culture.
As each day passes, the needs increase for some people to move and for businesses to make money. The first few folks that have to sell unfortunately have to sell low, but they get to buy low too. Eventually they will build the momentum that the banks will respond to. Businesses can accumulate profits, but only if their competition sits still too. Eventually some savvy operator realizes that hiring a few more people will help them gain market share from a stagnant competitor. Competitive pressures will build on themselves, and the accumulated cash balances will fund expansions again.
I thought that would all happen by now. Maybe it is, but is happening quietly. I do know that shipments are up. Inventories are being replenished. It even seems that comfortable consumers are beginning to spend again. This time next year could be a much more normal, though lets hope it will be a new normal that includes more sustainable attitudes and practices.
In the meantime, I would really appreciate a healthier portfolio, though I already appreciate how much better it is now that it was 18 months ago. I, too, have been putting off purchases and maintenance out of prudence, which can be a mask for inner fears.
Breaking free of that cloistered life is one reason I took the trip to Scotland. It went onto the credit card, but at some point movement becomes necessary. Eighteen months ago that would have been highly irresponsible. Now it was merely a step back from frugality. Soon it will be easier to do so without worry. Progress happens, on a personal scale, and on the national and global scale.
Today’s paper had pages of legalese for foreclosure notices, but only a few columns for job ads. Eventually, that will turn around. Unemployment was stopped. Good job. Businesses are showing increased revenues and profits. Interest rates are still down. Lots of people are ready to move. We all are ready, or at least I pity the people who want to live within that malaise.
The new year is coming. Plans are already being made. I’ve already booked my ski trip. The future is what we make it. I’m looking forward to mine. Care to join me?
(In the meantime, could someone please kick the butt in DNDN and MVIS’s stock prices? I want to pay for a vacation and I don’t want to do it with cheap stock.)