The Role of Uncertainty
Remember trying out for a sports team, or the high school play? Remember waiting to get your acceptance letter from the colleges where you applied? Remember that feeling that you couldn’t move forward, you couldn’t make plans … until you knew?
[CLICK HERE] to read the article, “Political uncertainty keeps slowing economy’s rise,” at USA Today, Oct. 17, 2013.]
That’s kind of where the United States has been for nearly six years. If you wonder why our recovery from an economic crisis that occurred in 2008 is so slow, it’s not that our nation’s corporations haven’t restored their balance sheets. They have.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Our response to skeptics,” at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Aug. 13, 2013.]
It’s not that real estate prices are still dropping. They’re not.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “August Existing-Home Sales Rise, Limited Inventory Continues to Push Prices,” at Reator.org, Sept. 19, 2013.]
It’s not that American citizens are divided evenly on how they feel about the partisanship in Congress. They are not.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Dysfunctional Gov’t Surpasses Economy as Top U.S. Problem,” at Gallup.com, Oct. 9, 2013.]
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Trust in Government Nears Record Low, But Most Federal Agencies Are Viewed Favorably,” at Pew Research, Oct. 18, 2013.]
It’s that we don’t know what Congress is going to do next. No clue.
Brinkmanship is a term that has become de rigueur in recent weeks. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term as, “the practice of causing or allowing a situation to become extremely dangerous in order to get the results that you want.” Thus, brinkmanship seems a very apt description of the circumstances that led to the recent partial government shutdown.
[CLICK HERE to view the video, “Analysts warn uncertainty caused by political brinkmanship may spook consumers,” at PBS.org, Oct. 17, 2013.]
It also seems reminiscent of another dangerous game: “Playing chicken.” That’s when two cars race toward each other and the first to pull to the side is the chicken. That didn’t end well for the perpetrator, Buzz Gunderson, who instigated the game in the James Dean movie, Rebel Without a Cause. What’s interesting in that movie is the scene just before they play chicken, when Jim asks, “Why do we do this?” and Buzz answers, “You’ve got to do something, don’t you?”
[CLICK HERE to view a clip from the movie, “Rebel Without a Cause,” at TCM.com, retrieved on Oct. 18, 2013.]
It may be human nature that when we don’t have a feasible plan, or are cornered with no options, to do something counter-productive simply because we’ve “got to do something.”
Recognizing this phenomenon in our own lives may be an important key to help gain confidence in our financial future. Whatever we do, it should be positive and productive. We shouldn’t undermine our own financial stability with reckless spending, being under-insured or taking unnecessary investment risks.
It would be nice to look to our government for this type of leadership and role modeling. But since that’s not currently evident, let’s focus on our own discipline and work with qualified financial professionals we trust, who can help us plan for retirement.
Please look to us as one of those professionals who can help you plan for your financial future.
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