The Sky Is Falling...Maybe.
Henry here, once again filling in for my son Stephen. His friend moved into a place with a hot tub. We have not heard from him in some time, nor do we expect to for some time to come.
I have been managing my financial portfolio since I was a young man. A very, very young man. Back then my investment bank of choice was shaped like a pig. When I was about 4, I started to collect old coins. They were donated to me by people who had been holding them for years. Mostly they were old pennies which were in use before legal national tender was created. There were still a few of those kicking around. I had a piggy bank which gave of a very satisfactory rattle when I shook it. I felt as rich as King Midas. Then disaster struck.
I came home from school one day to learn that my sister had raided my investment pig and taken my coins to buy ice cream. I was shattered. A whole piece of my world had crashed down on my head. My sky had fallen in. Of course, in the end it wasn’t as bad as all that and I did eventually get my investment portfolio back on track, though I have never again felt quite so rich as I did back then. I learned two important lessons from this experience: One, problems with the bank are not usually as severe as the innitial shock would make them appear; and two, never trust a girl, especially if she's your sister.
Recently I have revisited this experience and have once again been handling my own investments, hopefully with more success (my sister is being closely watched). I spend a lot of time listening to CNBC television. Like many people, I often want to take the easy path and believe the "experts," because they sound like they know what they're talking about, but this is not always the case. With the recent correction in the stock market I have heard endless "experts" testify that the financial markets have fallen in. To hear them talk, it is the stock market crash of 1929 again and we are all going to be in the poorhouse.
Hopefully there's not much chance of that: They seem to have been wipping each other up in a frenzy of panic. There have been incesent calls for the Federal chief Ben Bernanke to rescue everybody. Recently he, along with the President, seem to have calmed the market and reassured everyone.
This episode reminded of an old fable, which we all learned as children, which comes from a large body of folklore dating from around around the 6th century BC: The Sky Is Falling.
The story goes that as Chicken Little is eating lunch, an acorn falls on her head. Being a little slow on the uptake and prone to panicking, Chicken Little runs around the country telling everyone the sky is falling and eventually even the king is panicking, all over an acorn. The fox is there to reap the benefit of this collective hysteria. As Wikipedia says:
In (some) versions the moral is usually interpreted to mean "do not believe everything you are told". In the latter case, it could well be a cautionary political tale: Chicken Little jumps to a conclusion and whips the populace into mass hysteria, which the unscrupulous fox uses to manipulate them for his own benefit.”
The experts were all acting like someone had raided their piggy bank and left them penniless. But despite their opinion, the sky had not fallen in. We would have been foolish indeed to believe everything they told us.
I think this ancient fable reminds us of repeated experiences in our own lives when we would be very foolish to listen to the "experts". What about you? Have you run into Chicken Littles in your travels? What were they like and what were they panicking about?