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Nine Reasons to Cheer Up

Now that you've all had a chance to dip into the egg nog, let's consider why the sky may not be falling.

Despite all of the obvious economic pain of 2008, there are some reasons to be smiling. Here are some ideas from two authors.

First, here are the thoughts of Craig Hovey, an economics professor and author of "The Accountant's Guide to the Universe," due in 2009:

  1. Despite today's woes, the period from 1980 to 2007 was one of remarkable economic growth despite two mild and one bad recession.
  2. Unemployment is only 6.5 percent and may shoot up to 8 percent. During the Great Depression it was 25 percent.
  3. Gross Domestic Product shrank only by 0.5 percent int he third quarter of 2008. In 1932, the Depression era drop was 13.5 percent.
  4. Worker productivity is actually up 2.1 percent from 2007.
  5. Consumer sales, while not wonderful, were up 3 percent on Black Friday and gas is the cheapest it's been in years.
Here are more points for optimism from Zachary Karabell, president of Twin River Research:
  1. Despite the global downturn there have not been massive social upheavals such as wars.
  2. Consumers are in good shape. Unlike big financial institutions, the system did not let most consumers take debt they couldn't handle.
  3. People are using the slump to pay down debt. While not good for short-term growth, it's great for longer-term balance sheets.
  4. Many corporaitons have clean balance shets with lots of cash and not much debt.
So, as New Year's Eve approaches and you are reaching for those rose-colored glasses and a flute of champagne, think of these reasons to not worry. Be happy.
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