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According to a report in the New York Times, the United States Federal Reserve said yesterday that “a complete economic recovery was still years away.” That grim assessment of the US economy sent global stocks into decline today. Add to that the news of unending gridlock over the President’s jobs bill, new census data on families living in poverty and renewed debate over millionaires’ tax burden – and you can hardly get through a day without thoughts about money.
But what are you thinking? How do you process these news stories?
A few years ago I had an opportunity to work with Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money, preparing a not-for-profit board to embrace their role as fundraisers. Throughout her career Lynne has raised hundreds of millions of dollars and trained thousands of fundraisers to rethink their relationship with money. She has an amazing ability to strip away the myths many of us hold about money. It was a transformative experience for many.
So the headlines of the past few days prompted me to reread portions of her book and I appreciated anew her approach to our cultural beliefs about money – especially her discussion about the mindset of scarcity and the sufficiency of life. I particularly appreciated her reflections on our interconnectedness and her challenging of the current economic paradigm of “us vs. them”, “rich vs. poor”, “have vs. have not.”
So if you’re starting this day with fearful thoughts about the economy, take a few moments to consider this brief 10 minute video from Lynne’s Soul of Money Institute and reflect on your relationship to money. Feel free to share your comments.
- Learn about the thing you fear. Uncertainty is a huge component of fear: Developing an understanding of what you’re afraid of goes a long way toward erasing that fear.
- Talk about it. Sharing your fear out loud with a trusted professional, friend or family member can help put it in perspective.
- Live and take action in the present. The things we fear often reside in the future – and are outside of our control. You can only control your actions in the present – what you think, what you chose, what you do - not the outcomes.
New York Times op-ed columnist Charles M. Blow wrote a powerful opinion column entitled “Empire at the End of Decadence” in which he challenges us to look honestly at our country’s condition, compared to other industrialized countries. It is definitely worth our time to consider our actions (both locally and nationally) against the backdrop of this reality:
The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) – a panel of economists entrusted with the responsibility to officially declare the beginning and end of recessions – declared Monday that the longest recession the country has endured since World War II officially ended in June 2009.
Funny; I’m sure there are many Americans that feel like it is still going on.
President Obama spoke to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation dinner this past weekend and reaffirmed his Administration’s commitment to restoring the economy and creating new jobs.
About 6 minutes into the video, the President makes the point that from 2001 to 2009 the income of middle-class families in the US went down 5%. In other words, the problems that became evident at the beginning of the recession (12/2007) were building for years, and fixing the problems will take time.
Our US Representatives and Senators know this, but if you watch the rhetoric of the political campaign season it would appear that many are content to over-simplify the complexity of our national economy and suggest a quick fix to the sluggish recovery is possible simply by voting in new leadership. Sadly, many American voters will believe the claims of these candidates for office…because they desperately need it to be true.
Steve Chapman with the Chicago Tribune made this point yesterday:
A recession begins when the economy starts shrinking. It ends when the economy stops shrinking and resumes growing — nothing more. The conclusion doesn’t mean we’re getting rich. It merely means we’re not, as a nation, getting poorer. That may sound like a minimal achievement, but it’s better than the devastating contraction that went before. It’s the first step on the path to prosperity. We’re like…a village after the tornado has passed through. The danger may be gone, but there’s a lot of rebuilding to do.
Perhaps the recovery will be quickened if businesses and individuals actually tune out the fear-mongering politicians (whose election depends on an angry electorate) and actually begin thinking and acting as if the recession, in fact, is over. There is money to spend and jobs to create, people to hire and products to develop. Wall Street got the message! What will it take to get the rest of us going?