Ending 2008 On An Optimistic Note

2008—a year which will go down in history as a particularly nasty one from an economic point of view—is almost a memory. While the economic challenges which confront the world at present will likely get worse before they improve in the coming year(s), it is still a worthwhile exercise to plumb the depths of one’s mind to try to assemble a list of ten reasons to be thankful as we face 2009. So, mine are:

1.) Things could always be worse! Joe Kernan quipped on this morning’s Squawk Box about a rumored exchange between two Wall Street luminaries who were going into another meeting at the New York Fed during the darkest days of the credit crisis.

One man lamented:

“I can’t take much more of this.”

His superior retorted:

“you just got out of a Mercedes and are going into a meeting with the New York Fed. This isn’t like exiting a Higgins boat onto the beaches of Normandy!” While we are certainly enduring hard times, life has been much harder for Americans at previous points in our history. Think of the winter at Valley Forge if you start feeling too sorry for yourself.

2.) 2008 is over. Realistically, 2009 could be worse. However, what we do know in the here and now is that this annus horribilis of 2008 is almost history. It will not pass this way again. All of the really ugly stories—the lightening-quick and calamitous failures of storied financial institutions, the Bernie Maddoff affair, the endless election campaign, the dreadful holiday season for retailers, etc. are soon to be part of the past. Good riddance!

3.) The Cowboys will not be going to the playoffs and the Falcons will!

4.) 30 year mortgage rates are compellingly low. Admittedly, qualifying for a loan is a more sober and demanding process these days, but it should have always been so. This is a great time for homeowners to refinance higher-rate or adjustable-rate mortgages and is also likely a good time to be in the market for purchasing real estate in many regions.

5.) Gas is dirt cheap. It probably won’t last, but gasoline is as cheap as it has been in five years. Not only do consumers get that added bonus every time they fill their tank, the plummeting barrel price of oil is really hurting many bete noires of the U.S., such as Iran, Russia and Venezuela.

6.) Rampant consumerism is on the ropes. This holiday season, many people opted for home-baked gifts over pricey baubles and—the earth’s rotation did not stop! Quilting is in and such new-found thrift will lay the ground-work for a long and lasting recovery in future years as domestic savings grow.

7.) Our collective carbon footprint will likely shrink. Since people will undoubtedly be buying smaller, more efficient homes and cars and going on fewer and more modest vacations in the future, future energy savings ought to be palpable and significant enough to make Al Gore dance a jig.

8.) A new administration waits in the wings in Washington. We won’t have George W. Bush to kick around anymore and, regardless of your politics, we could all use a break from Bush derangement syndrome! Let’s all hope that the next four years are marked by a more civil and respectful tone in politics.

9.) Dog movies still sell! Marley & Me had a great weekend at the box office, so all is right with the world!

10.) Stock valuations are pretty darned cheap. While they could always go lower and earnings are going to be ugly for a few more quarters, valuations are at levels unseen in decades. Couple this with historically low cash yields and you have the makings of a great stock-buying environment. It may not be here yet, but it is much closer than it was this time last year.

So, there you go; ten things to be thankful for. I am sure that you can come up with ten of your own. Please feel free to add yours’ to our comment section. Thinking positively is contagious and, in times like these, it sure beats the alternative!

About Ockham Research 645 Articles

Ockham Research is an independent equity research provider based in Atlanta, Georgia. Security analysis at Ockham Research is based upon the principle known as Ockham's Razor, named for the 14th- century Franciscan friar, William of Ockham. The principle states that a useful theory should utilize as few elements as possible, because efficiency is valuable. In this spirit, our goal is to make the investing environment as simple and understandable as possible, yet no simpler than is necessary.

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