On Sunday, January 19, 2009, Dateline NBC aired an interview with investing icon Warren Buffet. Tom Brokaw, in a question to Buffet, referred to the current state of the economy as “the domestic equivalent of war.” When Buffet was asked if he agreed with Brokaw’s statement, Buffet commented,
“in September I said (that) this is an economic Pearl Harbor. …It really is an economic Pearl Harbor. It, the country is facing something it hasn’t faced since World War II…and they’re fearful.”
If you watch the news, listen to the radio, or talk to anybody at the office you are aware of the effects of the media on economic sentiment. The new normal is one of what Brokow and Buffet describe: War. While that may be true, my snapshot of the world reveals something different.
Snapshot: Just a few days ago I was talking to a middle aged father of two who installs carpet for a living. He chronicled his efforts to hire employees. He said that not only is it difficult to retain workers, but when he advertises a job with his company, his phone barely rings. In his words, “my business tripled last year and I need help. With all of the job loss that I hear about, why can’t I find anybody?
Snapshot: On a Saturday, in the middle of the day, I went to a local retailer to buy a new color laser printer. I had called the retailer that morning and they had 6 of these high dollar printers in stock. When I arrived at the store, they only had one left. The store was so full of people, it resembled Christmas Eve. (in 2007) After speaking to the salesperson and finalized the sale, I walked towards the register to pay for the printer until I noticed the line that snaked nearly half way towards the back of this large electronics store.
I’m not minimizing the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have lost their job. I’m not minimizing the many people who have lost their homes or the businesses who have either gone out of business or may close their doors in the near future. We explore how real world economic issues affect real world people and although the media would have us believe that the world is one bank failure away from the next Great Depression, I’m not sure that life is that dire for most. For the many people who have kept their credit card debt minimal or non-existent, who have saved money for emergencies, and live within their means, they may not be noticing that the world is in a state that Buffet describes as “Pearl Harbor.”
For those who may not be noticing the effects of the recession, hopefully the charitable opportunities that will undoubtedly present themselves will not go unnoticed. America has a proud history of coming to the aid of those who need it and many hard working people who will lose their jobs from no fault of their own will need it. We know you’re out there and we know your situation isn’t a result of what you did and we’ll be there to help.
Although I’m glued to the cable financial networks every spare minute I have, my hope is that the media will spend less time asking the economists how families are surviving and actually ask more families. If Warren Buffet loses a couple billion dollars, I think he’ll be just fine.