Live Big® Digest – September 10, 2010

Live Big® Digest – September 10, 2010

Doesn’t it feel like we’re living in a pendulum kind of world lately? Every other week brings news of a weaker-than-expected economy, which is then followed by a week of statistics showing a stronger-than-expected economy.  With the stock market, naturally, swinging back and forth in sympathy.  In keeping with the pattern, this week was better than last and the market looks to be finishing on a positive note, having pulled itself out of another hole.

As always, the true pattern is only perceptable when looking back over months or years, but the daily noise is ceaseless.  While the long-view is the hardest perspective to maintain, it is surely the one that serves us best.  And with another 9/11 anniversary upon us, it might be a good time to indulge in some contemplation of that long-view.

Here’s wishing you a pleasant and restful weekend!

The Good Old Bad Days

The U.S. economy remains almost comatose.  … The current slump already ranks as the longest period of sustained weakness since the Great Depression.  … Once-in-a-lifetime dislocations … will take years to work out.  Among them: the job drought, the debt hangover, the defense-industry contraction, the (banking) collapse, the real estate depression, the health-care cost explosion and the runaway federal deficit.That’s how Time described the dismal state of the U.S. economy – in September 1992 . The passage has been making the rounds in financial circles, a token reminder that today[s pessimism – the forecast of a “lost decade” for U.S. employment by Pimco CEO Mohamed El-Erian, for example – may turn out to be too extreme.

Almost before that Time article reached the recycling bin, the U.S. economy was humming again. Real gross domestic product rose 4.3 percent, both in the fourth quarter of 1992 and on a year-over-year basis – and for the rest of the decade America never looked back. The recession that officially ended in March 1991 lasted just eight months, one of the shortest U.S. downturns ever; it took another year to produce consistent job growth. Soon, however, the jobless recovery that helped elect Bill Clinton in 1992 ushered in a decade of prosperity, with 23 million new jobs created. By the spring of 1997, unemployment had fallen below 5 percent – a 24-year-low – yet inflation was holding steady at around 3 percent, with consumer confidence near an eight-year high. No wonder Clinton was beginning a second term.  (Businessweek, September 9-12, 2010)


The above are the opening paragraphs of an interesting piece that appears in the latest issue of Businessweek.  The article goes on to highlight the many ways in which our current conditions differ from those in 1992, but it serves nonetheless as a timely reminder that the future that seems so obvious in the present moment will likely prove a surprise.


“It’s time to recognize that many balance sheets in the U.S. are not just illiquid.  They are insolvent. And you cannot make large levels of this private debt disappear just by waving your hand.”–          Carmen Reinhart, professor of economics, University of Maryland, on the debt crisis in America.

“There’s an awful lot of positive stuff here in our numbers today.  … It generally takes four or five years to stabilize the whole (housing) market. We’re into about four now.”–          Karl Case, co-creator of the S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index.