Financial Planning

‘On your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness’

Smiley My wife and I were channel-surfing recently when we came across "Caddyshack" (perhaps the greatest film ever made) on cable. The movie had just started, and it wasn't long before Bill Murray was giving his classic soliloquy -- the one about caddying for the Dalai Lama in Tibet.

"So we finish the 18th," Murray's character, "Carl," says, "and he's gonna stiff me! And I say, 'Hey, Lama, how about a little something, you know, for the effort?' And he says, 'Oh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.' So I've got that going for me ... which is nice."

Talk about your power of positive thinking. You haul a set of golf clubs around Tibet and all you get for the effort is some spiritual mumbo jumbo ... and you're happy with it!

My point (other than being able to quote "Caddyshack" in a blog post) is that it pays to look on the bright side every now and then. It's easier than being miserable all the time, and it feels better, too. Plus, it's scientifically proven to make others happy at the same time.

I've spewed my share of cynicism about the state of the economy these days, but really, I'm optimistic about our financial future. With a little effort on our part, the ship is bound to right itself sooner or later, right? As my boss, Tom Hood, puts it: "They call them business cycles for a reason."

But you don't have to take my rose-colored word for it. Check out what economists and columnists Brian Wesbury and Bob Stein have to say (via James Pethokoukis' Capital Commerce blog) in "5 Reasons to be Bullish on the Economy." Their main points:

  • Bad times seem worse than they really are these days because they occur much less frequently than in the past.
  • The standards of living for "typical" Americans remain relatively high. (Though admittedly, that's a dubious claim. Define "typical.")
  • The unemployment rates for recent recessions are lower than during earlier recessions.
  • The same problem that launched the financial crisis -- the housing mess -- will also be a prime factor in our economic recovery, thanks to a lower housing costs and tighter credit regulation.

"Most importantly," say Wesbury and Stein, "for the long run, we still live in a country blessed with a Constitution that limits the power of would-be tyrants and a culture that attracts and encourages entrepreneurs like no other place on Earth."

A little over the top? Perhaps. But you get the point. Stuff happens, corrections are made, and we wind up smarter and stronger as a result. Is there pain? Heartbreak? Financial hardship? You bet. There are also countless opportunities to learn from our mistakes and make things better for future investors.

Will we? Time will tell. But I'm optimistic, so I've got that going for me.

Which is nice.


Bill Sheridan