There’s no denying that we’ve been on a roller coaster ride for the last several years, and investors the world over are feeling it — financially, emotionally and even physically. We’re weary of it; and some days it’s very difficult to believe there’s any reason to be positive about anything.
A couple of days ago, as I read a story on Bloomberg News, I was reminded of a conversation I had with my mother when I was a child. I was feeling sorry for myself because there was something I wanted and she didn’t think I needed it; and she refused to buy it for me.
The more I moaned and complained the more she ignored me, until finally her frustration got the better of her and she said: “You think you have it so bad, Alan? Take a look around. There’s always somebody much worse off than you. You should be grateful for what you have.”
What’s Bloomberg got to do with my childhood memories?
It verified that my mother was right: There is always someone who is worse off than you, as evidenced by the headline: “Fed Says U.S. Wealth Fell 38.8% in 2007-2010 on Housing”.
They go on to explain that “The financial crisis wiped out 18 years of gains for the median U.S. household net worth. Median net worth declined to $77,300 in 2010, the lowest since 1992. Mean net worth fell 14.7 per cent to a nine-year low of $498,800 from $584,600. Almost every demographic group experienced losses, which may hurt retirement prospects for middle-income families, Fed economists said in the report.”
By contrast, since the start of 2007 Canadian household net worth has actually increased by 12%*.
Nobody is having it easy right now. But how lucky are we that we live in this country. And while we are thinking positively, let’s all remember that there’s more value in the markets today than we’ve seen in a decade. It’s also important to remember that, throughout history, periods of adversity have been followed by periods of prosperity; and these lead to higher than expected returns in the future. We just have to be patient.
* Statistics Canada