Let’s Not Talk Ourselves into a Recession

Last weekend, I attended a Christmas party with several of my friends. After getting a cup of hot apple cider, our polite conversation quickly turned to our mutual concern for the economy.

Man with Empty Pockets

It seems that everywhere you look, the news is bad. The media drone on and on about the sub-prime mortgage crisis and high gas prices. While the outlook may not be apocalyptic, it is certainly pessimistic.

But not all the news is bad. On Sunday, the New York Times ran an article entitled, Not If Exports Save Us. In the article, they noted three positive economic indicators:

  1. Macroeconomic statistics are still good, including a 4.4% annual growth rate in GDP.

  2. Because of foreign investment, banking losses are spread around the world thus minimizing the pain in any one location.

  3. The weak dollar is actually helping U.S. exports, since foreign currencies buy relatively more U.S. goods than they did previously.

While there is certainly bad news to counter this, not everything is negative. My biggest fear is public perception and its impact on the economy. We don’t need to talk ourselves into a recession.

Frankly, some days I think the best thing for the U.S. economy would be if everyone stopped watching the news for a few days.

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  • http://www.bestengagingcommunities.com Mukund Mohan

    Spot on. I had a CEO who would never tire of telling me – If you are a race car driver and you focus on the wall, telling yourself “dont hit the wall, dont hit the wall” – You will hit it.

  • http://www.bryancatherman.com Bryan Catherman

    A few years ago, the media latched onto shark attacks. It was the year of shark attacks. Almost every day there was some story of a surfer getting bit or sitings or something tied to sharks. Some news shows even ran stories about how to survive a shark attack. It was getting to the point that I was thinking the great whites were finally mounting their offensive to become earth’s most dominating species.

    But then the end of summer came. As it turns out, there were less shark attacks that year then the past 5 years. What caused all the buzz?

    Sometimes I think all the talk about the slumping economy (and all the talk last year and the year before about real estate prices climbing so well)is not much different than the year of the shark.

  • Rick Johnson

    Perhaps we just need more people chatting at your party and fewer people watching CNN, MSNBC, FOX and all.

    I’m not sure if markets are efficient or inefficient. But there is some timely wisdom from John Maynard Keynes who said, “Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.”

  • http://www.colleencoble.com colleen Coble

    You nailed it, Mike! I’ve gotten so tired of hearing how bad things are when really the economy is moving right along. Yes real estate slumped but it NEEDED to slump. We’d been watching prices in the Arizona market since we plan to retire to AZ and in six months houses in the neighborhoods we’d been looking at went from 150k to 250k! California was the same way. Many markets needed that adjustment. Good to hear that ripple is absorbed world wide!

    Good post!

  • http://winningbusiness.wordpress.com Michael E

    I stopped watching the news altogether. It’s going to be bad all the time. I don’t believe that the news on television or in the newspaper is indicative of how things are really going in the world. What I see around me is this: people joining health clubs, spending time on blogs and taking more vacations. This says to me that more people have and utilize disposable income and time. That doesn’t jive with an economy that is heading for a recession.

  • Tony Jacobs

    I think that many times the mainstream press has an agenda…and it’s not one that I agree with. It would not disturb me to hear that consumer spending is down this Christmas or at any other time of the year. This would be cause for concern for our business but over all, at least for a breif time, it would be a positive because Americans spend way too much and as a result, many have little or no savings, not to mention net worth.

    Merry Christmas to all!

  • Luci Swindoll

    Oh Mike…your blog today was wonderful. I can tell you (after 30 years experience with Mobil Oil) that one of the primary reasons that Corporation came out on top financially (no matter how bad the market)was because of its optimistic, contageous leadership. I thank God you have that uncanny ability to see the bright side when the picture looks dark. It’s refreshing to work for a person with that kind of spirit. Thank you!

  • Karen

    I agree totally, Mike! There is an excellent book I read called “How to Watch TV News” by Neil Postman. I would recommend everyone read it.
    Neil also wrote another book I think you would like, called “Amusing Ourselves to Death.” If you haven’t already read it, check it out.

  • http://emuelle1.blogspot.com Eric S. Mueller

    Like Michael E, I don’t pay any attention to the news either. I find that the mainstream media is a business with stockholders to keep happy, and stories are often chosen based on revenue rather than informational value. I also think that most of the news organs are totally out of touch with the public, and I resent that so I ignore them. Sometimes the news has no clue.

  • Matthew

    You are blessed enough that you can talk about the economy as an abstraction; not everyone is.

  • http://www.michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

    I’ve read Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. It is a great book. I’ll have to get the other one. Thanks.

  • Tony Jacobs

    Matthew, with all due respect, get over yourself. If you hold citizenship in this country you are automaticly provided with opportunities to succeed. Don’t get me wrong, I realize that you and many others may be in a bad sitation at the present time, but democracy coupled with capitalism at the very least offers you hope to reach success.

    For faster results consult the old hymn: “Count Your Blessings”.

  • http://www.unleashthebeautyandpoweroflove.com H C Villanueva

    You are on the money, Mike. You hit the issue on the nose. The recession is not the problem. It is the perception of the recession is the problem. Pessimism is destructive.

    Two years ago, I made a conscious decision to protect my heart, mind, and ears from pessimistic exposures. First, I reduced the time watching TV news. Then, I made a consicous effort to influence my friends to see things on the bright side of life. I made my friends aware when they share a challenge, I guide them to share two solutions after their discourse.

    If my friends are just spewing out problems, I stopped them in the middle of a the sentence. At first, the situation was uncomfortable. Now, this is the routine to share noble ideas to each other.

    Whatever the state of the economy, opportunities abound. Our optimistic perception can unearth gems in gloomy situations.

    Mike, thank you for sharing your thoughts and life. Have a MERRY CHRISTMAS and a blockbuster 2008 with you, your family, and Thomas Nelson Publishers. God bless.

    Herman Villanueva
    Honolulu, Hawaii

  • http://www.randyelrod.typepad.com Randy Elrod

    Yes. I have been on a news fast since Hurricane Katrina after reading USC President Steven Samples’ “Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership”.

    I am more positive and happy and still up to speed on global events.

    Thanks for this post!

    Randy Elrod

  • John

    The fact so many responded to your post with such enthusiasm seems to be a real desire to focus on the positive at this time of year. Without intending to be high brow or Belle-Meadeish if you know what I mean, truth is most of us that you know, who you associate with, Christmas party with, and who read this blog are blessed at an extra level and don’t have inconveniences of higher gas prices affecting Christmas purchases. We risk seeing past the pain those hundreds of millions in loan write offs from Citigroup, BoaA, and Countrywide have endured. Even Suntrust, a very well run outfit,said yesterday they have some big write offs. Dumb business decisions? Yeah. But when Macy’s, Target, J Crew, Walmart and others are sending back reports of same store sales concerns this month that’s reality which may not mix well with happy folk talk at Christmas parties.
    Folks tired of bad news doesn’t make some facts go away and cancelling the paper seems more like putting ones head in the sand rather than listening attentivity. Instead of the Tennessean read WSJ. Between your blog and my response perhaps somewhere is the truth. Maybe it’s not as bad as the news presents but it could be better. It’s niave for some to a broad brush stoke to all media as the boogie man. That would be as irresponsible as my saying “all of these Christian books look like one another.” Company losses, slower home sales, flat retail is a fact not a story, but I’m glad we’re blessed to not have to endure what some are this Christmas. Me? I’m taking my family to Disneyworld. Give everybody at TNP a nice bonus and keep this economy stirred up, ok?

  • M.L. Eqatin

    I have an even better cure for those feeling economically pinched. Six years ago, my husband and I took a class called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. What that did was put us in touch with real people in many other corners of the globe. We email these friends and keep up with their situations.
    Never again will we feel underprivileged. Here in the globalized world, we have choice. We will not be enslaved against our will. No one will knock on our door and take our loved ones away. We will always have the option of some kind of roof, even if it’s an emergency shelter. And we could eat better from a fast-food dumpster than many in the world get even after working hard all day long.
    God sees all mankind at the same time. It’s a good thing he is a God of mercy when he looks at our complaining spirits.

  • J.P. Ray

    Good note on what the devaluation of the dollar actually means for Americans at home. Our goods are more competitive on the world market because of it. That means that more capital will come into our market, making us more wealthy (at least some of us…). This is the way everything works, you have to have friction and tension or nothing can happen, if nothing happens entropy takes over and everything falls apart. It would be wise for Americans to step back and look at what history has to teach us. Rome didn’t fall because its adversaries were strong, but because its unity was weak. America became such a dominate economic force because Europe became complacent (and started fighting each other). China is growing because they are determined to grow. India is winning markets from western countries because it is more competitive and wants the jobs more. If all we are determined to do is maintain the status quo, we will worry and underachieve ourselves into the position Europe found itself in 50 years ago.

  • Linda

    This is where I think the era of the 24 hour news works against us. They have to fill 24 hours, and there’s a point where there isn’t enough information to do that. That’s why we end up with talking heads endlessly analyzing [fill in the blank] for every potential problem area and maybe are told to hype some areas because they will draw viewers. It’s become less about delivering news and more about the sound byte.

  • http://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/ Rebecca LuElla Miller

    We refer to creating buzz as part of promotion, recognizing that what we talk about gets people’s attention and (hopefully) will affect their behavior. Why should it be any different if the news media decides now is the time to talk down the economy?

    I find it curious that they chose to tell us how bad Christmas retail sales would be before Christmas shopping had ended.

    There ought to be a good conspiracy theory novel in that for someone to write!


  • http://www.wordsdomatter.com Kevin Pace

    Mr Hyatt, I like the title of this blog. How many things do we talk ourselves into with the words that we speak? Such a powerful lesson that so few understand. “I discovered the things that made me feel stressed, were all self-imposed through words I confessed.” – (by me) – Kevin Pace, Words Do Matter

  • Jules

    Mr. Hyatt, you said something I’ve been saying for years.
    Although I consider myself a part of the media, I have to point the finger of blame to the industry for many of the economic downturns we’ve witnessed over the years.
    All consumers need to hear is “possible recession” and though there is no real evidence, and there is enough balance elsewhere in the economy to counter whatever industry(ies) are failing at that given moment, people start looking around with the deer-in-the-headlight gaze and think to themselves, “Uh-oh, we’re in trouble” and stop buying anything other than the absolute necessaities. Multiply that by 100 million or so and the media has talked us right into a recession.
    Same with the Christmas shopping season. Some wanna-be junior journalist at one of the major news companies, looking to make a name for himself, decides to report that, based on a cash-register conversation with a local 7-11 proprietor, “this holiday shopping season may not be so merry after all.” The “news” spreads, and consumers decide en masse to cut back on the gift list this year. Voila! Bad shopping season.
    Unfortunately, bad news still sells more papers than does good news.

  • http://www.melatoninfaq.com melatonintablets

    the Economic Recession has been pretty hard on us. some of my friends lost their job because of the massive job cuts. i just hope that our economy becomes better in the following years.

  • http://www.arthritistreatmentlab.com Jacee

    i am hoping that the global economy would recover from this economic recession. life has been very hard with these massive job cuts.

  • http://www.acnetreatmentdigest.com Acne Scars Treatment Info

    Economic recession created huge unemployment rates around the world. I think the world economy is already on the road to recovery.

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