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The Importance Of Being Positive

A perverse kind of a situation has been created with the bust giving way to the boom again

What a long journey it has been from last Diwali to this one. Leading up to the festival on 23rd October, 2008, there was real fear in the air. For a whole generation of people used to working and saving and investing in a benign environment, those few days redefined what panic could be. Certainly, most of us have seen market crashes before, in 2001, 1992 and perhaps earlier too. We've also seen periods of general economic crisis. However, this was different. The panic that we all felt in our hearts was of a different quality. It reset our mental standard for what we thought was a bad situation. Many, many of us were staring at a 360 degree disaster that encompassed not just our savings and investments, but also jobs, businesses, real estate as well as future prospects in all of these.

Or so we thought. In these short 354 days from one festival to the next, there has been a complete transformation of the mental framework in which we are making investments. In a manner of speaking, people are saying that if we could survive that, then we can survive anything. In a strange and perverse way, the extreme panic has retreated, after the economic recovery happened, in a manner that has restored confidence to a level that is actually more than what existed in 2007. Then, many of us were circumspect about there being a bubble and what would happen if and when it did burst. Now, we feel that it has thrown the worst at us and we're still OK. In the ordinary scheme of things, the normal comment any cautious soul would pass on this would be to advise circumspection.

However, maybe this is not that sort of a time. Perhaps one should imbibe a bit of the Diwali spirit and say that yes, we made it through the worst of times. There are any number of problems in the world and the investment markets could well be running ahead of themselves. All that is true, but at the end of the day it boils down to what attitude you'd like to take. I guess these last twelve months have proven that no matter how dark the outlook is, if you have to act on belief alone then it's better to believe that things are going to be better than that things are going to get worse.

If a bunch of pessimists compete with a bunch of optimists on the investment returns they can generate (and of course, there's no other difference between them), then the optimists are far more likely to win.