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One Moment Please.... Are we there yet?

Fri, Feb 8th, 2013
Posted in All Commentary

Since realizing the calamities of the financial crisis of 2008, economists have been analyzing data and attempting to educate us on the state of our U.S. and global economy. Wall Street is seeing record levels with the Dow hitting 14,000 points for the first time since October 2007. And, while the unemployment rate still lingers at 7.9 percent in the U.S., economists are especially optimistic about housing in 2013.

In a CNN Money article dated January 27, 2013, author Chris Isidore quoted chief economist for Nuveen Asset Management, Keith Hembre, as saying, “Homebuilding activity will likely remain the strongest growing component of the economy in 2013. After several years of excess supply, demand and supply conditions are now in much better balance.”

Interestingly, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Great Recession ended in June 2009. I don’t think I got the memo on that. And, this same report indicates that the Great Recession started in December 2007. Well, at least somebody knows what’s going on, right?

The reality is that our economy is heavily based on our perception. If you just got promoted or received a pay increase at your company, things are looking up. And, if you just lost your job, or saw a decrease in benefits from your employer, things are not looking so good.

The state of the economy is relative and very personal. Some families and individuals were virtually unaffected throughout the Great Recession. Meanwhile, others were greatly affected and they are still struggling to make ends meet.

From what I can tell at this moment in time, I think we are on our way out of the Great Recession. My perception may not be on the same timeline as our worldly renowned economists or even on your timeline. But, from anecdotal conversations with local business owners in our region, the economy is looking better each day.

Again, our perception of the economy is all relative and very personal.

But, if we are on our way out of the economic rut that kept our consumer confidence in a holding pattern, I hope that we have all learned something from this entire experience.

We are all responsible for the decisions that we make. Let’s not over-extend ourselves. Let’s not rack up shameless credit card debt. Let’s not buy fancy, luxury automobiles that will depreciate the moment we drive them off the car lot. Let’s not buy big houses with big taxes and big utilities.

Let’s learn from what we have gone through in the past five years. Let’s live within our means.

Unfortunately, I believe the Great Recession has given some people a sense of entitlement to wipe their slate clean of all debt and start fresh -- yet still leaving that debt to be paid or absorbed by somebody else.

And that bailout mentality doesn’t teach us anything. That doesn’t teach us to take responsibility for whatever decisions we have made in the past. Ultimately, that mindset moves the dial on our moral compass in a direction of taking risks with poor judgement and no regard for accountability.

Are we there yet? Yes, I believe our economy is improving day by day, and 2013 is going to be a better year for all of us. I just hope we, as a nation, have learned from the past five years.

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