The Role of Fear in This Faltering EconomyOur economy is definitely going through some "tough times", as our President George Bush recently confirmed in a speech regarding the floundering economy of today.
A combination of factors have created a very volatile stock market, housing market, increasing inflation and cost of living, and a faltering job market, but one key component of a failing economy plays an intangible role in facilitating and perpetuating economic instability.
That component is human fear. We can't help it, we've evolved with fear as one of our main emotions, and the media and our surroundings have only helped it along by declaring "the sky if falling" with it's seemingly nonstop doomsday headlines.
Heck, you can't read your email without seeing the headlines on the side declaring that we are headed for worse times before they get better, costs are skyrocketing, foreclosures are at an all time high, gas prices are astronomical, and basically that everything is working against us right now.
The sky looks very dim indeed if you tune in to the nightly news or happen to be bombarded with all this fearful journalism every day on the internet, which is an increasingly popular portal for getting the news. So, has the media played a part in our faltering economy, or is it really a combination of unfortunate factors, seemingly brought on by events beyond our control?
Well, most people feel the media is partly responsible for making things worse. Take the stock market for example. Fear is the stock market's worst enemy. When consumer confidence in the economy is low and there are other headlines that are less than favorable in the financial, retail, and last but not least, housing sectors, the stock market suffers dramatic volatility.
In fact, one of the hardest hit in the subprime and credit fiasco, whom also was recently bailed out by the federal government and JP Morgan, another financial heavy, Bear Stearns, acknowledges that fear is it's worst enemy. They insist that their financials are still intact, but rumors that were rampant about the company's imminent collapse forced shares down to their lowest levels in almost eleven years.
Many financial institutions are experiencing nosedives in their stock prices, and have also slashed dividends to preserve working capital, a move that is said to create a domino effect in the banking industry where other banks follow suit. This only forces prices lower on stocks, and makes it harder for them, and consequently, the market, to recover.
Most financial analysts agree now that we are in a recession, but some are still reluctant to call that card, saying that a recession may still be averted, and that we are merely in an economic downturn. I for one, believe we are smack in the middle of a recession, and I believe that part of the reason for that is the fear that is being spread about the dire straits the US economy is in, and the sense of hopelessness conveyed by these doomsday headlines.
Fear perpetuates a sense of helplessness and "waiting it out", as well as inspires investors to back their money out of stocks and other investments, and put them into cash accounts, which only puts us further into recession. For those that have iron stomachs, it's actually a great time to be an investor, as there are some good, solid companies selling for well below their book values and their true worth right now.
That's not to say there also aren't a lot of stinkers too, but if you practice due diligence in researching their individual financials and balance sheets, you may be sitting pretty when this recession is over and the consumer confidence that is so key to a healthy economy has returned.
I do personally believe we have a long ways until we are out of the woods, but I also believe that we have the power to turn things around if we can just practice patience and discipline as a collective nation. Until then, it may be sage advice to ignore the doomsday headlines and make up your own mind about where this country's economy is headed.
About the Author:
Danna Schneider is the founder and primary editorial contributor of www.creditcardcatalogue.com where information on low interest credit cards, special deals on low to no interest credit cards, and the best deals currently going in credit and loans. She also manages an online financial and credit info and news blog called www.primeratecredit.com .