The Economy and more……

Unemployment? Rising. Growth? Slowing. Deleveraging? Continuing. Losses? Accumulating. Prospects? Fading. Home prices? Decreasing. Consumers? Not buying. Government? Spending. Earnings? Falling.

The financial news continues to be so bad that I am hearing many say they cannot even watch it anymore. Last week nasty news continued to pour out of the financial services sector – State Street, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch… The sector lead the overall market lower for the week, with the major indexes down 7 to 10% on the year. We are firmly in bear market territory. Long dates US treasuries also bit the dust, likely over concerns regarding the $2 trillion plus in borrowing that the US government will need this year.

The good news of course is that we have a brand new President and he promises to try to make everything better. A shockingly high stimulus package sparks dreams of jump starting the economy, but the experts I listen to are not that hopeful. Sadly we are experiencing a “debilitating combination of economic stagnation and deflation,” that will take a while to reverse. We are facing a triple whammy of a liquidity trap (nominal rates cannot go below zero), a deflation trap (falling prices choking off consumption and investment) and debt deflation (the real value of nominal debts rises as prices fall). ( RGE Monitor)

So what do you do? Financially I would suggest buttoning down the hatches and prepare for the storm to get worse. Maintain ample liquidity if you can and cut spending. Stocks may go up, down, sideways, but by guess is we test the lows as the economy worsens. In case this makes you feel just a little better, it is a lot worse in the UK.

A Lost Generation? I don’t think so…..

Continued greetings from Canada! I am in Kelowna, BC, my home town… soon to enjoy a wonderful afternoon with my mother after having spent the week in meetings, speaking and doing clean-up around a lot of bad decisions. It is so easy to live in regret, stew in regret, and I am trying so hard to learn from every mistake and to try to understand why I  made them to begin with.  I am also trying to hard to live in a place of generosity. Of abundance. To not get pulled in to bitterness or resentment.  

We have to be a people that pushes to the possible.  That sees a better world and is willing to work to make it that way.  A people that turns our back to negativity and instead exudes positivity.  A people about HOPE….

It is all about What We Can do For Others!

Greetings from the Great White North! Yesterday I read this letter by Colin Powell which must, must, must be read, over and over. Please print it out, tape it the fridge, give it to you children to take to school, make copies and pass it around to people on the street that you do not even know. I have been speaking and writing all year on this need….. and on Sunday, two days ago, gave a personal testimony at my church about being called to ACTION. I have never done that before. It was about how at this moment of need, we must respond. We all can give something. It is all the somethings that will add up and create the force for positive and restorative change. Claim this day, the day we get a new President elected on the promise of change, to be the day you make an oath to do more to serve people. Mr. Powell is an example of servant leadership, the type of leadership this world needs a whole lot more of. Read on…..

“Let’s Renew American Together”

“Next week marks a fresh start for our nation. Whatever one’s political leanings, each presidential inauguration is an opportunity for Americans to renew the energy required to deal with the challenges we face — never more so than when the challenges we face are without precedent.

Over the course of their transition, President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden have spoken with confidence and acted with competence. They’ve unveiled their plans for governing — plans that recognize it will require federal money to solve our economic problems at home, and diplomatic and military skill to meet our obligations abroad.

But they also realize an equally important truth. While government has a role to play in restoring the American dream at home and rekindling the dream that is America abroad, there are limits to its ability to restore our sense of purpose as a nation. That task falls to us. Particularly in hard times like these, we are charged with living up to our shared responsibility to one another.

My experience is that in times of need, the American people recognize that when one of our fellow citizens is suffering, those of us with the power to ease or eliminate that suffering should come forward. This is not a time to retreat to our homes and wait until it’s safe to emerge. It is the time to give more, to step forward and serve our fellow citizens, and to reach into the reservoir of this nation’s unrivaled capacity for good.

That’s why, at this moment of great purpose, Mr. Obama has chosen the eve of his inauguration to launch “Renew America Together,” his call for all Americans to make an ongoing commitment to better the lives of others in their communities and their country. It’s fitting that he will do this on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day when we honor the legacy of a man who lived his life in service to others and believed that “everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.”That’s the beautiful simplicity of service. When I was a young man, I chose to devote my life to serving my country. I spent decades under her flag as a soldier, and later as a diplomat. In my time as a private citizen, my wife, Alma, and I have made service a part of our lives by founding “America’s Promise,” an alliance that connects our young people to mentors who teach them the skills they need to grow.

Each of these mentors proves that King was right. You don’t have to wear the uniform of this country to serve others. You don’t have to work in government. And you don’t have to start a foundation. At a time when so many of our countrymen are in need, everyone has the power to help.

Pause for a moment, and ask yourself what you can contribute to the life of this nation. Perhaps you can find an hour each week to volunteer in a soup kitchen or help a child learn to read. Maybe you and your friends can spare an afternoon a month to clean up your local park or prepare care packages for our soldiers stationed in far-flung corners of the globe.
With our hectic lives, it might seem daunting to find convenient means of serving others in a way that matters to you. That’s why Mr. Obama’s team has unveiled an exciting new tool to facilitate that connection.

Usaservice.org is an online community that makes service easy and accessible. Even amidst the busiest of schedules, there is always a moment to log on and find a cause you care about in your own community. It’s also easy for organizers to post and publicize projects. Already, Americans have used USAservice.org to create more than 5,000 events across the country.

What these participants will discover, if they haven’t already, is that service is a two-way street of mutual benefit. By enriching the lives of others, you get back more than you give.
Barack Obama is asking us to join him on Monday in making a renewed and enduring commitment to enriching the lives of others. If we answer that call, I have every confidence that we as a people will ignite a new national sense of purpose necessary to meet the great need of this hour.”

Mr. Powell was secretary of state (2001-2005) under President George W. Bush.
Reprinted as it appeared in the Wall Street Journal. – Jan 17th 2009 – LINK HERE