The current global economic crisis clearly demonstrates the power of our thoughts to influence the world around us. Markets are case studies in human psychology. They are a kind of collective mind in action. Our thoughts are really the force that drives them up or down.
The issue becomes who is driving the thinking? Who is creating expectation bubbles and who is popping them? It’s another reason to empower your own thoughts rather than allowing them to be driven by “experts”, politicians, or the media.
When housing prices, the stock market, or any other market rises it is the result of our thinking about them and our belief in them.
It’s not brilliant economic strategies, astute politicians, or suddenly realized value in houses and other assets that causes them to rise 15% per year. Prosperity and rising markets are created by our thinking. As long as our thinking is confident, things are good. When our thinking shifts to fear or worry about markets they begin to contract.
There is a certain collective nature to thinking about these things. When the thinking reaches critical mass (one way or the other) changes happen in the market.
As with other aspects of our lives, our thinking inevitably leads to our actions. When belief and confidence are strong our actions reflect the belief that growth will continue. The danger lies in believing that growth is an uninterrupted straight line. It is possible to make poor decisions or take unwise actions that can lead to problems.
That’s what we see in the current crisis. Very powerful financial companies made some bad bets on based on optimistic assessments. They wrongly concluded that the boom would go on forever and they got over-extended. Because of lax oversight and questionable business practices, they stretched optimism to fantasy land.
Mind you, when this happens real – sometimes negative – events happen in the world. I’m not saying that thinking can avert the results of bad decisions or actions. I’m saying it is the impetus that drives the market one way or the other.
Why am I talking about this today? As Congress ponders an (imho) ill-advised bailout of Wall Street, the seeds of fear have been planted in the market (our minds) by financial and political leaders. They have set up a scenario that creates a crash, if their bill ($700 billion bailout) is not passed.
Planting these thoughts creates the negative thinking that will bring about a crash, if we are not careful.
The bailout is based on a logical fallacy called There Is No Alternative (TINA). TINA happens when someone says there is a problem and offers a single solution as the only possible course of action. This is almost never the case. It limits thinking into a narrow path of possibility. The fact is we live in a universe full of infinite possibilities. As citizens and people, we need to be on guard against people trying to limit our thinking. It smacks of manipulation and pushing us towards an outcome desired by a small group of people.
In reality, though, we can minimize the extent of these economic events by maintaining stable thinking and not over-reacting. Panic is created when the entire herd decides to run off the cliff – again based on a thought that “there is not enough I better get mine.” That’s what happened in 1929 and caused the great stock market crash that resulted in the Great Depression.
If optimism creates growing markets and pessimism create shrinking markets, it stands to reason that stable thinking can stabilize shaky markets.
A combination of accountability for those who have made bad choices and stable thinking will get us through this situation. Never forget, though, how important the way you think about these events is to how they will come out. Your thinking is a powerful thing. Never underestimate it.