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In the pause: Leading economic indicators we all need to watch

Buried deep in the Business & Finance sections of media channels, there are some leading economic indicators that we all need to watch. I have to admit that I’m getting very nervous. I’m beginning to feel like it’s 2007 so I’m making plans with my money. You’ll find a mini-action plan at the bottom of this post. I hope it helps. Please feel free to share this post with anyone whom you think would be interested. I don’t have a crystal ball. This is just what I’m seeing, reading, hearing, thinking, and doing. I put links below for you to reference:

  1. Executives at Wall Street’s largest banks are dumping stock, and I mean dropping shares like they’re hot potatoes. They have sold nearly $100 million worth of stock since the election. And it’s not just some of them. It’s all of them! Bankers dump stock because they think now is the best deal they’re going to get for a good long while. They’re smart as hell when it comes to these kinds of predictions so pay attention to them. Yes, the Dow hitting 20,000 is a big, flashy story. But honestly, that’s all it is. Don’t think that means good times are ahead. The Dow is going to seesaw like it’s on an elementary school playground for years to come. In July 2007 the Dow hit a record 14,000 and then it plummeted to 6,547 in March 2009. Those were dark times filled with panic. There is a high degree of volatility in our economy right now, and by all accounts that volatility is going to continue to a frightening degree.
  2.  Emerging markets are selling debt at record numbers. Argentina’s finance minister explains why in an interview with the WSJ: “Nobody knows what’s going to happen to U.S. interest rates with Mr. Trump as President. We have to reduce the level of uncertainty that there is now. The right decision is to minimize financing risks.” Again, finance ministers in foreign countries are seasoned professionals who spend their waking hours watching economies and policies. This is all they do, so when they make statements like this, it’s very significant. We need to listen to them.
  3. Contrary to all of the hoopla from the West Wing this week, American corporations are not investing in their businesses. They are stockpiling cash to the tune of $1.9 trillion, the most cash they have ever held. Ever. This isn’t rainy day savings. This is flat-out hoarding. Why would they do that? The same reason you would stockpile cash—because they are worried about what’s ahead. By having cash on-hand, they will be able to make adjustments and survive. In a difficult economy, cash is life (literally!) Accountants and finance professionals help companies manage and hedge their risk. Again, they know what they’re doing.

Look, I have no desire to relive those frightening years of 2008 – 2012. They were awful. But please understand that in the case of global economics, there is very little that ordinary individuals like you and I can do to impact this outcome. This is an issue that is truly in the hands of fiscal policy makers and elected officials. Trump’s volatility and foreign policy decisions will move markets. I wish that weren’t the case, but it is. So here’s what I’m doing to protect myself:

  • Increasing my cash savings. I’m still savings for retirement in my 401K and IRA, but I’m not making any significant purchases that will put me behind the 8-ball financially. I have a lot of friends who bought houses, cars, and the like in 2007 just after we graduated from business school. Some paid dearly for those decisions for years. I have an emergency fund if my job evaporates or I have a medical emergency. Liquidity will be the name of the survival game if our economy goes belly up again like it did in 2008.
  • I’m continuing my side hustles as a freelance writer and I don’t spend any of that money. I save it. The extra income really helps.
  • I have a plan if lose my job tomorrow. I know it is scary to think of things that way. I know it isn’t optimistic. I know it sounds like Doomsday is on our doorstep. No one wants to think about this. But we must. Please. Just have the plan ready to go, and then get back to work.
  • Now is the time to up your skills and make yourself more marketable. I’m now thinking of ways to do that through volunteer work and free or low-cost trainings. Now’s the time to break out our jack-of-all-trades game faces.
  • If you are in a job that looks shaky now, I would strongly encourage you to look for a new job and get out ahead of the storm. If your company is unstable now, it will only get more unstable with a rocky economy. Don’t cross your fingers and hope everything will work out alright. Now is not the time to preciously cling to feeling badly about leaving your company, or your boss, or your coworkers. The only one who’s going to make things alright for you is you, and remember a company will protect its own survival before it protects your job. When their backs are up against the wall, people become line items. I know that’s painful to hear; it’s also truthful. I watched 10s of 1000s get laid off from my company from 2008-2012. It was harrowing. I still feel sick about that time. Companies are survivalists so we must be, too. Take care of you.

I wish this were a sunnier post. I wish like hell that I had great news for you when it comes to the economy. But listen, knowledge is power and protection. I would be delighted to be completely wrong about all of this though I’m of the belief that it’s better to have a plan you never need rather than needing a plan you never have.

And if you need help, please let me know. I am not a finance expert by any means so please don’t take this advice as such. I do read a copious amount of information on a daily basis in dozens of channels. I try to stay as informed as possible on a wide variety of subjects. As I learn and understand more, I will of course share it. Together, watching out for one another, we are stronger and more resilient. If last week is any indication, we’re in for quite a ride for at least the next 18 months until the midterm elections. At least we’re all in the same boat. Now let’s row in the same direction.

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About Christa Avampato

I make a living in business and I make a life as a writer, artist, and yogi. I use my business and storytelling skills to build a better world. My first novel, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, will be published in the Fall of 2017 by Thumbkin Prints, a children's and YA imprint of Possibilities Publishing Co. My creative career has stretched across Capitol Hill, Broadway theatre, education, nonprofit fundraising, health and wellness, and Fortune 500 companies in retail, media, and financial services. In every experience, I have used my sense of and respect for elegant design to develop meaningful products, services, program, and events to help people live happier, healthier lives. A recovering multi-tasker, I am a proud alum of UPenn (BA) and the Darden School at UVA (MBA). When not in front of my Mac, I’m on my yoga mat, walking my rescue dog, Phineas, traveling with a purpose, or practicing the high-art of people watching. I am proud to New York City my home, and I've been called the happiest New Yorker by friends and strangers alike. They're right. Follow my adventures on Twitter at https://twitter.com/christanyc and Instagram at https://instagram.com/christarosenyc.

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A big thanks to @seeksatiation for posting her coconut lemongrass ramen recipe today. Happily, I had almost all the ingredients and could make substitutions for the couple I was missing. A delicious dinner tonight and lunch for tomorrow!

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