Investment Wisdom

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“He who does not learn from history is bound to repeat it.” Or is it “The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” Do we spend ourselves out of this economic mess or do we encourage saving? Are the fundamentals solid or are we careening toward an economic sea change? Whose wisdom do we believe — learned economists with differing theories, historians with conflicting prophesies, posturing politicians, ratings-driven pundits? Each sounds so confident, so assured. Combined they sound like a confusing cacophony of conflicting chatter. Grandma’s practical wisdom is so appealing. Don’t spend what you don’t have…work hard…save…it’s always good to have a little nest-egg…give the Lord His due…lend a helping hand to the less-fortunate. Refreshingly uncomplicated but is it too simplistic for a complex world? Too naïve?

In a society where debt is an asset, credit scores the badge of financial honor and spending considered a patriotic act, it is difficult to determine just what anchor to secure one’s boat to. Is there a safe mooring anywhere that will withstand the turbulence of these confusing times?

My financial advisor says ride out the storm. Don’t cash out now. Keep the long view. Stay with the basics. But his wisdom is derived from stock market performance during the growth decades since its last disastrous crash. But it’s different this time, he reassures me, as my retirement investments continue to dwindle away.

“Don’t worry about tomorrow!” Where did that voice come from? What Pollyanna prognosticator would advise such a thing? Doesn’t he realize how serious this crisis really is? People are losing their homes, joblessness is epidemic, businesses are going bankrupt. And he says don’t worry about tomorrow?! Who would have the nerve to say such a thing? He must be from a different planet.

“No, don’t trouble your mind about such things,” he goes on. The birds still eat, the flowers still bloom. Don’t you realize that your heavenly Father cares more about you than them? Just keep on seeking ways to participate in his Kingdom — he’ll take care of the rest. And, by the way, does worrying really do any good anyway?

Take a deep breath. Exhale slowly. For just a moment, take your eyes off the foreclosure signs that line our streets, the blue chip giants who are toppling, the gyrating Dow Jones report. Consider for just a moment that there is a personal God, a God who has the bigger picture, who is looking after the affairs of those who place their trust in him. (Like my retirement.) And then ask yourself: whose wisdom shall I listen to?

Bob Lupton

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