Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Are recessions healthy?

This might not be completely related to flashcards and flashcard software, but more to the business of flashcard software and life in general.

I've been wondering, do most people really think that markets that only go up are healthy? It does sound nice doesn't it? Who wouldn't want an investment to only increase in value? Our government seems to think of the economy in these terms and anything that isn't going up is a problem. So the option seems to do one of two things. Hide the real numbers or take out certain numbers to make it "look" like it is healthy except for that one number, or to over stimulate it so it doesn't go down in the first place. Hogwash I say. I think a good recession once in a while is a good thing and we should all plan for such an occurrence. If a market doesn't go up and down (but overall up) then this should be a huge red flag pointing to even bigger problems when reality catches up and no amount of hiding numbers or stimulating will keep the real value inflated (think Enron). It is at those times when you tend to wish that the market had corrected itself gradually over time instead of one gigantic correction.

I'm no doomsayer, but I do think it is better to plan for rainy days then to ignore them entirely or pretend they don't exist. What does this have to do with the flashcards software business? As in most of my friend's businesses, it does seem there has been a slow down over the past year. At least my numbers are lower than usual. Will this be a big problem you ask? Well, no. I don't carry any debt with this venture and I could survive a significant down turn like we did after September 11 when we went from record sales on a monthly basis to not selling a single copy until December 20th (over three months!). After that, sales slowly returned to normal and I've had a few record months since that time. Markets go up and down, sales go up and down. Growth is followed by recession which leads to more growth. It is all normal and our government is confused when it believes that recessions are something abnormal. They are a sign of health as long as the overall trend is positive. After 20 years of significant economic growth, I think we should all consider a little bit of recession a healthy adjustment and a time to take a deep breath and prepare for more hard work, not spend spend spend as we being trained to think of as healthy.

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