his morning, after I dropped the kids off at school, I went for a run. Late April has been kind in Central New York, so the morning is soft and bright. I took a detour from my usual grind it out, get it done run and wandered out into the country. I saw an intimidating hill, and thought that I ought to challenge myself to conquer it. Powered by U2 blasting through my headset, I pushed up the hill. It was hard…really hard. I hated every step. But as I reached the crest, I was gifted with a gorgeous view of a valley. I am sure that I could see for 15 miles. It was stunning. At the top of the hill, I felt humbled, thrilled, proud of myself and thoroughly out of breath.
So, I stopped and enjoyed the view. And I realized that I am REALLY excited about the next 6 months. Eventhough today’s New York Times reports that the economy dipped by 6.1% in the first quarter which was wore than expectations, but it declined at a slower rate than it did the previous quarter. Let’s talk about the things that I am optimistic about (and I hope you are too):
- The decline is slowing: OK, so cheering about the fact that things are getting worse more slowly may seem like it is a little crazy. But what this means is that on a macro level, the worst is behind us. There will be fewer and fewer unforeseen economic upheavals. We aren’t out of the woods, but things won’t get much worse. And that, my friends, is a reason to feel optimistic.
- Anecdotal housing report: My family and I are moving back to Boston, so we’ve been doing some house hunting there. Every open house that we see is packed. We’ve waited in lines to see a house. There is hunger in the eyes of the buyers. They want to pounce. Places that we were interested in went under agreement within 36 hours of hitting the market. That does not seem like we are in the midst of a slowdown to me. Those buyers are pumping money into the housing sector. That is hot! (By the way, this is pretty shameless, follow the link if anyone is looking for an AMAZING house in Dryden, NY).
- Business Spending: My primary business is SEO at SpinShark. And after months of customers waiting to ride out the downturn, we are seeing interest spike. The stories that we are hearing are that folks have either decided that the downturn is going to hang around so they can’t wait for it to end before getting on with things, or, they are seeing competitors step up and being more aggressive, so they need to be making moves too. And we have heard from a few forward thinking companies that see a vacuum and want to market through the downturn so that they’ve captured market share and mindspace when the economy heats up. Fundamentally, although huge spending is still at a standstill, we are seeing companies start to think about the future opportunistically, and not as a black hole of financial hurt.
- Government Spending: Regardless of how you feel about President Obama (I am a BIG fan) his economic stimulus plan is starting to disperse money and it is being spent! These dollars will be creating jobs and opportunity. We have lost 5 million jobs since the downturn started in December 2007, and the government is going to create about half of those back. The Obama administration is getting us halfway back to where we were. That is a great pad against the bottom. (Feel free to discuss how you feel about the aftermath of the spending, but that isn’t where I am focused at the moment.)
- The Stock Market: The stock market will always have ups and downs. There will be good days and bad days. But the stock market shows signs of life. GE’s stock price has doubled in the last 6 weeks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained something like 1500 points since March. Money is being lost, yes, but people are starting to buy stocks, and that is good!
So, my run this morning has gotten me pumped up about the opportunity that our economic reset has created. The downturn will end, it has already started to hit the bottom. And even if the bottom lasts for a long time, we at least know where we can put our feet. Find your footing and challenge yourself to run up the hill. I’ll see you at the top.