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Cyclops: Don’t panic. Think horses, not zebras .
Nov 13, 2013 | 2374 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print

By Bryan Gray

The opinions stated in this column are solely those of the author and not of the Davis Clipper. 

A Utah talk radio host often advises his listeners to not overreact to negative news and to avoid conspiratorial ideas. “If you hear hoofs behind you,” he said, “think horses, not zebras.”

It is not uncommon today to hear cries of upcoming calamity. The U.S. still has economic troubles and a stubborn unemployment rate; we have an unwieldy and uncompromising Congress willing to refuse payment on the country’s bills; and terrorist threats continue with renewed worry about the Mideast and a nuclear Iran. Many Americans Р including a Kaysville man who hung the American flag upside down as a sign of distress following Pres. Obama’s re-election Р seem ready to hunker down and accept the end-times.

To him and others, I say, “think horse, not zebras.” We are a resilient people.

As an example, while tidying up my office last week, I came across a daily newspaper from Tuesday, August 9, 2011. The main headline on the front page read “STOCKS PLUMMET AS INVESTORS PANIC: The Dow Jones drops 634 points in one day as investors in U.S. dump stocks and leave world reeling.”

There was other news, of course. Elizabeth Smart was speaking in Dallas at a child crimes conference, a jury in Texas was hearing sexually-explicit audiotapes of Warren Jeffs, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz was hinting at challenging Sen. Orrin Hatch. But gee, if the economy was melting down, who could care about anything else?

I am sure many frightened Utahns dumped their stocks and headed for the bunkers (or at least purchased “safe haven” gold). But in the ensuing 26 months, let’s see what really happened.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose nearly 6,000 points to an all-time high at the end of last week. Worried about Obamacare and its effect on health care stocks? (Pfizer has gone from $16.66 to $31.32). Worried about the health of banks? (Wells Fargo lost 10% on August 9, 2011, but has since moved up from less than $23 to $42.71 and Zions Bank increased from $17.33 to nearly $30.) 

Worried that Americans won’t have enough money to purchase retail items? (Starbucks increased from $34 to more than $81, Disney more then doubled from $33 to $68.58, and Kroger (Smith’s) jumped from $22.31 to almost $42.) Worried that the technology sector was headed for another burst bubble? (Google rose from $546 to $1,016 and Apple rose from $353 to $520 at last week’s close.)

Worried that the jolting economy would put a damper on vacation traveling? (Delta Airlines soared from less than $7 to nearly $27.) And how about that “safe haven” gold purchase? (An ounce of gold dropped from more than $1,700 in August 2011 to less than $1,300 last week.)

In fact, if you had not worried about zebras and purchased just 50 shares of each of the above stocks during the August 9 panic, today you would have earned (with dividends) more than $43,000, a profit of about 83% in just 26 months. That’s not too shabby for a U.S. economy in meltdown.

I can’t predict the future. Neither can the Negative Nellies who talk fear on talk radio or hold neighborhood meetings full of wailing and worry. All I know is that Americans pride themselves in bouncing back Р and this country has a lot more horses than it does zebras.

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