We are in the middle of a remarkable transition of the economy of our nation and the world. The 2007 financial crisis was only the beginning of a massive change that is still unfolding. We see the consequences in almost every phase of our lives, from the news and politics to health care and employment. Every day the papers and broadcasts are full of data and speculation about jobs, home prices and elections but very little of it explains why this is happening and what it will mean for our personal lives.
How many people really understand what is going on? On the news, there is a lot of opinion, much of it based on political affiliation or economic perspective or self interest. But how much of what you read and hear really informs *you* about what you need to know, and what you need to do, to take care of your financial and personal needs?
I don’t believe anyone is looking out for my financial needs, so I’ve decided to investigate what is going on myself to determine my own answers. The results of my work are the subject of this blog. I hope you read this with and open mind, and then decide what makes sense to you, and then continue learn as much as you can. I’ll provide links and titles and I will represent a wide and conflicting set of opinions.
I do believe there are major changes underway already that will affect all of us profoundly, and the direction of those changes will be influenced by elections. But that is not my focus. I will leave the policy making and political wrangling to others, but I do want to investigate the financial and economic aspects of the public debate, from the point of view of my own personal interest and those of my family, friends and colleagues.
I’m not an economist or a financial planner, but a working guy who is close enough to retirement to care very deeply about the economy and the decisions that are going to be made over the next few years. My wife and I manage my own financial affairs and we believe it’s best to stay informed, learn constantly, and most of all, be aware that everything is in transition and what works today may not work tomorrrow. We can’t predict the future, but we can anticipate it and be prepared for a variety of scenarios.
The key is to stay informed, understand the issues, and watch for signs of significant policy changes that may alter the consequences of the choices you have made.
Here are some of the topics I plan to investigate over the coming weeks:
- What is the meaning of the huge public debt? Is it destined to sink our republic, or is it going to be manageable?
- What are the pros and cons of current public policy with regards to deficit spending? Who’s in favor and who is against it, and why?
- What are the pros and cons of proposed fiscal austerity and the drive to slash public spending to reduce public debt? Who’s in favor and who is against it, and why?
- What might the future hold? Who predicted the last crisis, and how likely are they to forsee what is coming next?
- What is inflation, and why is it so widely considered a bad thing, and what might it mean in terms of paying a mortgage, going to college, or starting a business?
- What is deflation, and why is it so widely considered a bad thing, and what might it mean in terms of paying a mortgage, going to college, or starting a business?
- What doe the Federal Reserve actually do, and whose interests do they serve? Should they be given new powers, or reduced to a small office in the basement of the US Treasury?
I won’t provide any definite answers, but I will ask a lot of questions, and I will refer to insights provided by the “experts,” the analysts, authors and in some cases, politicians.
I honestly believe that I don’t have any bias in this discussion, other than my own self interest. I will encourage you to examine both sides and consider for yourself what is in your best interest, as well.