01/08/10 — Roller coaster: Who knows what the real story is on the economy, so let's think positive

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Roller coaster: Who knows what the real story is on the economy, so let's think positive

Trying to figure out whether you should be optimistic or pessimistic about the local and national economies sure isn't easy.

For every piece of good news, there is a corresponding announcement that suggests there is still work to do. And even the positive pronouncements do not seem to really be translating to better news here at home.

If you listen to the pundits and the great predictors of economic fortunes, they cannot even agree whether the Federal Reserve is doing a good job or if Ben Bernanke needs to put in an application at McDonald's.

So what is a person to do -- sit around and wring his or her hands while stuffing money under a mattress or take a chance on business expansion and stock market investments?

If we really had that answer, there would be a "gone fishing" sign on this editorial spot.

But here is a factor to consider when you are trying to decide how to feel about your economic outlook for 2010: What goes up must come down and vice versa.

So, the best way to approach this new year is to be a little bit cautious. Set a budget and stick to it -- and if you can throw a bit more into your savings, do so.

This is not the year for that splurge -- unless you win the lottery. And if you are doing pretty well in your 401K, meaning you still have money there, take it easy and consider yourself lucky to be coming out the other side of this financial meltdown a little bit ahead of the game.

And if you own a business, hold steady -- Americans will let their optimism take over soon. Responsible spending will put everybody back in the black. Just keep reminding people here that we have great places to shop right here at home.

The truth is that no one really knows when -- or if -- this economic recovery is going to break wide open, but they are sure that excessive taxation and unfettered spending are not going to make it happen any sooner.

For now, we will all have to think positive, support local businesses and keep a close eye on those we have tasked with taking care of our money.

With a little luck and those same market principles that have always guided our economy, someone will get the message that we need to make sure that our government is following the same principles we are -- spend only what you can afford.

Most of us are probably a little leery of what this new year will bring, but that doesn't mean it is time to give up. There are still three quarters-plus to play.

Published in Editorials on January 8, 2010 10:48 AM