We have learned to settle for less.

Let's go over a few of this week's financial headlines to prove my point.

  • GPS giant Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN) posted a 44% drop in profitability, yet its stock inched 7% higher.
  • The stock of discount apparel retailer TJX (NYSE:TJX) also gained 7% on Thursday, despite the company posting lower earnings for its telltale holiday quarter.

We had grown to expect more. Good luck finding a discount broker that isn't offering up some sweet perks if you open a new account these days. Whether it's up to $100 cash or a pocketful of commission-free trades, everybody seems to want your business.

Then again, they probably don't want you as badly as American Express (NYSE:AXP) doesn't want your business. If you're a high-risk borrower, the credit card giant may be sending you a $300 prepaid gift card if you clean out your account and go elsewhere.

That $300 is a lot of money, but American Express wouldn't be offering that much if it didn't think it would light a fire under its delinquent -- or near-delinquent -- accounts.

Companies paying you more to stay away than to attract you? Stocks getting high-fives when their earnings fall? Please wake me up when Mr. Market wants to talk sensibly.  

Briefly in the news
And now let's take a quick look at some of the other stories that shaped our week.

  • The market hit levels last seen in 1997. It may seem as if we've just walked in a big circle over the past dozen years, but one index size doesn't fit all. Over the past 12 years, for instance, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been a 20-bagger! In other words, don't let the headlines scare you away. If you pick the right stocks, you can beat the market. Even in a downturn, some stocks are still doubling.
  • Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Gmail was down for a few hours this week, and there was media uproar. Gee, who can I go cry to when my mail carrier is a few hours late?

Until next week, I remain,
Rick Munarriz

Garmin is a Motley Fool Global Gains pick. American Express is an Inside Value recommendation. Google is a Rule Breakers selection and Apple is a Stock Advisor pick. The Fool owns shares of American Express. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz recommends windshield wiper fluid when trying to look back. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.