With all the doom and gloom you read, see and hear I thought I would show you and connect you to some postive information so take heart; the editors of Kiplinger's Personal Finance and Kiplinger's forecasting came up with ten things going right these days. See if you agree:
1.Oil Loses Its Swagger: With the U.S. and global economy hurting, oil prices have dropped more than 50% in just three months, from $147 a barrel in July to the $65-70 range.
2. A Tipping Point for the Auto Industry: After years of talk and false starts, finally, all the major carmakers are furiously developing hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles that could lessen our dependence on foreign oil. .
3. Interest Rates Are Low and Headed Lower: The prime rate is at 4.5%, which is driving down interest rates on home-equity lines of credit and some consumer loans. The interest rate on a traditional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is averaging 6.5%, the highest it's been since the summer of '07, but still not too far from the historic low of 5.8% reached in 2003-05 and 1963-65. .
4. Homes Are More Affordable: Real estate, which was overpriced during the housing bubble, has returned to earth. That's especially good news for first-time home buyers who were priced out of the market. While scarey stories persist of credit drying up, the reality is more a return to traditional lending standards that had been thrown overboard-recklessly in many cases-by lenders. That means to qualify you usually need a 20% down payment, sufficient annual income, good credit and a tolerable load of debt. (see FHA artivle in blog also.)
5. Your Bank Savings Have Never Been Safer: The $700-billion federal rescue plan more than doubles the amount of federal deposit insurance on individual bank accounts, to $250,000 from $100,000.
6. Stocks Are on Sale, and Many Bonds Offer Terrific Yields: The current bear market is approaching the 1973-74 and 2000-2002 downturns, the two worst retreats since World War II. That's the bad news. The good news: Individual blue chips are selling at bargain prices.
7. The Miracle of Technological Innovation Continues: Been to Best Buy, Sam's or Costco lately? For $799, you can now buy a 42-inch, high-definition flat-panel TV that will knock your socks off. Throw in another $200, and you can get a surround-sound system to truly transform your den into a home theater. A top-of-the-line PC with more memory than you'll ever use now costs $1,000; high-end laptops with all the bells and whistles go for $1,200, down from $2,000-$4,000 five years ago. And giant leaps in handheld devices, such as Apple's new iPhone, have revolutionized the way people interact with the world. (Use our PriceGrabber tool to compare prices.)
8. Prosperity Reigns in the Heartland: The fall harvest is shaping up as one of the best ever, despite the destructive weather and floods in the Mississippi River corridor since last spring. Exports of U.S. farm products will increase more than 40% by value this year.
9. A New Tone and Direction in Washington: Whether it's Barack Obama or John McCain who enters the White House in January, election of a new chief executive should provide at least 100 days of galvanizing certainty for markets, and a new direction and sense of purpose for the country.
10. Shoppers Can Expect Great Gift Buys This Holiday Season: Retailers depend on robust end-of-year sales to turn a profit, but for 2008, the National Federation of Retailers forecasts holiday spending will increase only 2.2% from last year. That won't even beat inflation. It's good news for bargain hunters, though.
So chin up. We've been through hard times before. To quote Rudyard Kipling, "If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs …"