09/19/08 — Don't panic: It is easy to say, but it is critical in handling economy

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Don't panic: It is easy to say, but it is critical in handling economy

Watching the Dow Industrial Average jump up and down like a yo-yo can't be easy -- especially if you are close to retirement or have a family member who depends on stock income to survive.

And knowing that your house does not have the value that it used to and that it might be difficult to sell right now might not make you feel all that wonderful about yourself, either.

But for those who do not regularly follow the financial markets, the most important actions that can be taken right now are to calm down, think carefully before making a rash financial decision and pay attention to those who analyze markets for a living.

And that is the financial experts by the way -- not Matt Lauer on "The Today Show" or others like him.

When markets surge and fall, people worry that there will be another Depression and those with money in the stock market will find themselves with no security and no future. The truth is that our financial markets are a lot stronger than that.

You will hear a lot of opportunistic candidates over the next few weeks claiming to have the definitive analysis for what is going wrong with the economy and the financial markets.

Truth is, they do not know any more than you do. They are relying on expert advice, too.

The best way to arm yourself is to read, listen and to make sure you understand how stocks work.

Although he did not express himself well, Sen. John McCain is not wrong -- the fundamentals of the U.S. economy are still solid, still able to recover from any crisis. This was not a collapse and there won't be one -- not today with all the safeguards in place.

And Sen. Barack Obama is right, too.

People are worried -- and it is a smart idea to pay attention to the problem and to make sure the proper steps are taken to relieve the pressure that is making the nation's financial markets woozy.

But investors and citizens have a job, too.

Right now, we have to trust in the nation that has been a solid financial rock for centuries and realize that we will come back stronger from this crisis. Think of the reform that is coming -- it will make for a stronger U.S. market and dollar.

There is still reason to be confident in Wall Street and the financial institutions that have helped build this nation.

All we have to have now is to courage to hold tight -- and enough savvy to know that knowledge is our best weapon.

Published in Editorials on September 19, 2008 10:43 AM