Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Decade That Was

I remember in the 1990’s when the Dow Jones Industrial Average was climbing into heady new territory above 10,000, 11,000, and 12,000 there were prognosticators predicting these valuations would rise to the skies. Then the bubble burst. The tech stocks collapsed, and the Dow with them, as the bears had been saying all along. “These new valuations are unsustainable,” they were saying.
Turns out the bears were right. But what I remember is the ease with which people could say that tomorrow will be more of what we are experiencing today, and everything in those heady late nineties was up.

The next collapse we all experienced was one that no one anticipated, and it hit us like a ton of tricks. The devastation when the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center fell was emotional as well as visible. And though I’d venture that few people in the heartland expected such a thing, there were voices raised that no one took heed of, for whatever reason. Maybe they just sounded grumpy and negative and we prefer good news and happy prospects to warnings.

Then there was the housing market, another bubble that was unsustainable. Those who spoke of impending disaster were disregarded. Then the banking industry fell apart. As the decade’s end approached, people who wanted new cars were unable to buy them because credit was no longer easy. Which left the auto industry slammed.

The decade included its share of natural disasters, from Hurricane Katrina to the tsunamis that caused so much devastation. And then there were the wars…. Iraq, Afghanistan.

As we look forward I listen to all kinds of predictions about what will come next, and frankly, I just don’t think anyone can say anything with certainty. It takes very little imagination to come up with a whole set of fairly bleak scenarios. But it could easily be argued that (and I hear people saying this) the worst is behind us.

One thing I can be fairly sure of is that the Minnesota Vikings are not giving a lot of thought to whether or not the end of the world is at hand or that the economy is going to rebound or collapse. As they face off with the New Orleans Saints tomorrow, they have but one thing on their minds… being ready with a solid game plan.

As for the rest... what will be will be. And we'll deal with it.

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