The world’s stock markets have experienced a decline. The reduction in share prices took mainly place in Asia and Europe. Yet, even though U.S. markets were closed when the sharp drops happened in Hong Kong, Istanbul and Frankfurt, many seem to blame the United States as the cause for their predicament. Commentators now predict a serious global recession for all markets. The U.S. is singled out with additional forecasts promising a deep drop of the U.S. dollar, sharp reductions in U.S. military strength and the vanishing of U.S. political influence. Alas, these commentators are sadly mistaken.
All too often, forecasters are looking only at the short term – and if they refer to the long term, they usually mean next week. The world turns much slower than the typical media blurb makes us believe. Countries adjust their strategies only gradually, as do most customers, entrepreneurs, and corporations. Rather than being driven by momentary shifts, sensible thinkers search for a context, and look at the road rather than the turnoff.
Take the current changes in share values. Financial markets have changed for many years – and typically, in the past few decades, it has been for the better. Families, towns, provinces and nations have improved their lot. Health care has improved, both in terms of pharmaceuticals and in care delivery. Housing has become better, and education, a crucial ingredient of progress and growth, now reaches many more than ever before. There is much more ability to achieve, accomplish, and to accumulate. There is less famine, more opportunity and more freedom.
Of course, it is part of human nature to strive forward, and therefore not be satisfied with the status quo. But such a drive should concentrate on life itself, not just on a few select economic issues. We have even come to the point where mere stability and constancy is seen as wrong and as indicative of “falling behind”. Imagine an executive who told his shareholders that he wants...