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Success stories are regular features of our Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement newsletter service, where we share profiles of people who have become financially independent. One of the most remarkable stories we've come across is that of Billy and Akaisha Kaderli. In their late 30s, they left their fast-track lives and started traveling the world. Here, Billy and Akaisha address the current chaos in the financial markets.
Fears of recession or even depression are upon us. Economists worry about both inflation and deflation. Unemployment is running rampant, while gold recently jumped again to $1,000 an ounce. Meanwhile, the stock market's in the tank, and crude oil still trades below $50 a barrel, though gasoline prices are up. Home foreclosures are running at huge numbers, while housing prices continuing to fall. The government promises to sport record deficits, yet the spending continues.
What the heck is going on?!
The talking heads are saying that now is the time to buy. But I ask, buy what? Real estate in a declining market? Or maybe stocks? Those are like trying to catch a falling knife. How about commodities? Have you seen that chart? What about gold? Oh sure, once it crossed $1,000 per ounce, people in Asia were lining up to sell it to us. What do they know that I don't?
The world is spinning me, and little of this is making sense.
Five states -- California, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, and Florida -- are causing most of the housing problems nationwide, but 88% of homeowners are still paying their mortgages on time. 92% of the workforce is employed, and most of the 8% that do not have jobs are receiving unemployment benefits. It was not that long ago that some considered unemployment rates as high as 6% to be full employment. Has the definition changed all that much so that now we are in a state of panic? Social security pays out millions each month, and the vast majority of pensions continue to honor their obligations.
Yet we are told that things are going to get worse before they get better.
The nightly news reports are filled with gloom and doom, with anchors advising their viewers that our state of affairs has not been this bad since the Great Depression. What do you think?
The problems facing our economy are not insurmountable. We have been through worse. The Great Depression in the 1930s saw unemployment rates near 25% with no unemployment benefits. There were long food lines, rationing, no Social Security for retirees, and no FDIC bank insurance. After all of that, the U.S. economy came back stronger and more diversified.
A trip home
We just returned to Arizona from living six months in Mexico.
Based on news accounts, we expected to find streets littered with for sale signs and depressed people not spending their money. Instead, on our normal three-mile morning walk, we found two homes for sale out of hundreds -- much fewer than there were when we left. The roads were filled with shiny large new cars and RVs, and the local Wal-Mart's (NYSE: WMT ) parking lot is continuously packed. Yet this area of Arizona, we were told, is ground-zero for the housing mess.
The U.S. and the world are having an economic slowdown. No one is denying that -- and this won't be the last one we ever face. These cycles and declines are a way for the economy to clean out the excesses. Recessions and bubbles like the ones we have seen in both the housing and equities markets have a lifespan, and even though they are painful, these too, will pass.
If left to run their course.
So, what are we to make of this?
Take a deep breath, now exhale, and repeat.
The world is not coming to an end. The sun is going to rise tomorrow, and the robins will sing in the spring. Just because there is a recession doesn't mean you have to be pulled down by it. As dark as some want you to see your future, the only one in charge of it is you.
Don't let fear rule the day and steal your dreams. You cannot make sense out of the craziness on the news, so don't let it define your future. Instead, focus on your goals, find your financial reset button, put your financial house in order, and keep a steady course.
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