Fear Knot

This column appeared in the Friday AM December 2012 All Month Edition

Economics is many things, not the least of which is the inventor of jargon more frightening then yet another teen vampire movie.

Stagflation, austerity, unsecured debt, liability (sounds like a skin disease) and my personal fave, the fiscal cliff. Unless you’re a sky diver or a rock climber, the word “cliff” in most any sentence will strike fear in your heart.
Why must the stock market crash? Why must oil prices skyrocket? Why must the price of gold soar? Fear. That’s why. Fear is used to force the “masses” to comply and obey. It’s true. And frightening financial words don’t help people feel reassured not to mention confident or hopeful about the future.

But you and I are not the masses. We are people. We are individuals. We know what we need to earn, spend, give and save (and in some cases, like my own, borrow) and that’s okay. We’ll get through this because we’re smarter than the business numbers on the evening news think we are.

Time for a little plain language. Enough with the jargon and the fear mongering. Let’s review and demystify some of that nasty lingo.

Interest – there’s nothing much interesting about interest except it’s expensive when you owe money and attractive when you don’t. And credit card companies earn a fortune charging it. So put those plastic bad boys in your freezer. And only thaw in case of emergency no matter how many special points you can collect.

Commodities – just a fancy word for things you can sell and make money on when, in reality, your biggest asset is your ability to hold a job and earn a paycheque, not bet on the price of things. Fact.

Futures – the price of what commodities aka things, are estimated to cost in the future. Unless you’re a day trader on Wall Street or really good at poker, keep your money in your pocket and focus on today.

Dividends –  a share of profit when it sounds more like how you would cut up a chicken to feed as many people as possible. These are important for retired people and corporate Canada owes them their due. So buck up and start spending some of that dead money, please.

If you care for a healthier perspective, we are better off than the generations before us. I suspect signing a mortgage at 21.50 % in 1980 on a property worth hardly twice what you earn in a year was pretty scary. I can’t be sure but I suspect lining up at food bank in the thirties was pretty frightening. Only less frightening then sending your sons off to to war in the forties with very little certainty they would ever come home.

What does scare me (well a tiny bit anyway) is that  we now live in an economy where uncertainty is a money maker. Insurance, interest, inflation and speculation is where the dollars are. Enough already. It’s time we took charge. Demand a better rate. Demand lower fees. Demand reasonable returns. Demand a little respect and tell the speculators, whatever shape they happen to take, that the future no longer belongs to them, it belongs to us, to you and to me, the people doing the real work.

So my advice, if you’re in the mood for taking it, is a lesson from the brave men and women of WW2 – keep calm and carry on. It might just save us yet.

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One Response

  1. […] out Louise Wallace’s complete post  Fear Knot over at her Blahgg […]

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