The sour headlines lead. Ford wants billions in loans. Car makers’ sales are tumbling, like a too-tall SUV on a tight curve. Delta’s slashing service. Staples and Sears are staggering. GE and Goldman Sachs say their decks are awash.
Black Friday produced nothing more than a one-day Dow plunge of nearly 700 points, unless you count rumors of a Cyber Monday to save the holiday retail season, which sounded a lot like rumors of there being more lifeboats aft as the Titanic pitched forward. Analysts everywhere are drastically cutting back on optimism. All that’s expected to rise is credit-card write-offs.
Scroll down a second or two on a given day’s Google Financial News, however, and you’ll strike cheerier news, “cheerier” these days being defined as “Come on back down off that railing and we’ll talk about it.” Boeing engineers avert a strike. Futures trading is up. Intel is solvent enough to consider a $3.2 billion investment. Southern California has finished installing the largest solar panel power-collection grid in the state.
If you’re interested in staying off that railing, and in keeping your clients off there, too, consider that news absorption has become a lot like news dissemination used to be: a matter of selectivity, spin and timing.
Not to whistle “Bright Side of Life” from the crucifixion scene at the end of Life of Brian here and the fog of gloom can be dense some days, but consider the larger picture for you and your clients as the mess continues on Wall Street, on Main Street, and up your street. For instance, a meeting in this very company a couple of months ago produced the plucky suggestion that perhaps as a media company we should immediately offer special reports on surviving a financial crisis.
This sound idea was acted on here and elsewhere: WebCPA’s Financial Crisis Center has been joined by the 35,800 hits that come up on Google when I keyed in “surviving the financial crisis.” (To be fair, “Watching ‘Sponge Bob’” turned up 1.36 million hits…)
Our crisis is perpetuated by a frozen credit market, nameless, unreasoning, unjustified credit, credit being largely a matter of faith. Faith being little more than the belief, as I told my seven-year-old son Ned, that if 10 people owe you a dollar each, you can tell people that you do in fact have $10. (This may seem simplistic – Ned certainly seemed to think it was, before he turned back to “Sponge Bob” – but look where complex has gotten us.)
As you must lead clients through the gloom to get to the light, so it might be time to spin this crisis stuff in our own heads and shed a little fear. Fear itself, somebody once said, “paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Say something else and people will, eventually, think something else.
Perhaps it’s time to say “recovery” when we mean “crisis,” as in “financial recovery center.” Same content and it wouldn’t fool the literal-minded or even the intelligent client, but it might begin to help restore a general faith. It might lift our hearts and heads, and instill in us all the power to register a mandate for direct, vigorous action.
Even if it doesn’t, it might help your clients through another day of this mess. They can’t ask for more than that.
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