Sunday, February 5, 2012

Kicking the can down the road

Joshua Brown  explains the last six years pretty succinctly. This has not been your average Great Recession. Individuals and businesses that are still drawing breath have had to adjust in major ways.

We've all been through the ringer.  Some of us have gained a little extra weight and sprouted some premature white hairs.  Some of us have had to give up things and activities we loved.  Some of us have downsized our lifestyles substantially.  This economy has cost us all something - vacations, cars, jobs and even marriages.

And when you're living in a state of lowered expectations for so long, it becomes easy to imagine that this is the way it has to be.  That this is it and the best you can do is not get killed.


But what happens if the treadmill speeds up beneath our feet?
What if this is for real now after so many stutters and stoppages?
What if people keep getting jobs and giving jobs?
What if the malls and the restaurants and the morning commuter trains start filling up again?

Are you ready for that?  Have you done anything over the last few years to set up for that possibility?  Or have you spent all this time in the bunker, doing nothing because of "the conditions out there"?

It's okay if you've been in hiding.  Or just shuffling through the months with your head down so it couldn't get chopped off again.  We all did a little of that.  But you might want to consider rubbing your eyes and coming outside.  You might want to consider emerging and shaking off the bunker dust.  Because there will be a future after all, gang.  And the people who can switch their mindsets the fastest are gonna own that future.  Same as it ever was.
The "Vision Thing" plays a big role here - we're not talking about mindless optimism, we're talking about guts and planning.

And worse than the losers are the haters, the glass-is-always-half-empty crowd.  "But it's not enough jobs added, and it doesn't matter because of the debt, and Iran, and Europe, and China, and oil prices..."  What makes these people so dangerous is that they are absolutely right on the details but dead-ass wrong on the consequences.  And they have no context.  They don't
understand that throughout history shit has always been fucked up and yet people find a way to get things done and move forward.  It will be no different now, but the haters have so many statistics handy to keep you out of the game, under the bleachers with them and the rest of the cowards.

You know the type, the guy who looks at a solution or an improvement and says some stupid shit like "But they're just kicking the caaaaaaaaaaan, all they're doing is kicking the caaaaaaaaaan."  Do me a favor, bro - grab yourself by the hair, yank your head down into an overflowing sink full of water, hold your face under it until you stop wriggling.  You think I want to spend the last forty or so years of my life listening to you whining about kicking the can?
By the way, kicking the can is good.  Rather, having the flexibility to kick the can, which we do, is a good thing.  If you've ever run a business then you know this; you have a list of things you can spend on now and then you have a list of things you'd like to spend on when you're in a better financial position to do so.  Sure there's a moment when you have to take some pain, but being able to choose the moment is not a negative, no matter what the ideologues say.
And go to the gym.  Go do some push-ups or run around the block.  You're far less susceptible to self-defeating negativity when the blood is flowing and you're active.  This is more important now than ever.  The winners of the next phase are the people with the most energy.  The entrepreneurs who are willing to invent their own jobs where none exist and can will themselves into a career whether the Man in the Suit said so or not.  You can't kick the door down and walk into a room chest n' chin first if you're lethargic and fat.  Get the fuck up already.  Ritholtz is in the gym right now, y'all.

This is not about keeping a stupid New Years Resolution or anything quite so pedestrian.  This is about something so much bigger, a purpose so much higher.
I have no idea when this secular bear market and the attendant economic malaise will truly be over - but I know for a fact that if you're not planning for its end you're going to miss your chance.  You'll be flatfooted for the pivot, too close-minded for the turn, too fat for the sprint that begins when those Animal Spirits take hold.

So get your shit together.  Now.