As ever, in our investment world, there are differing schools of thought as to what the future holds. Some of the financial pundits say borzaszt?, a Hungarian word meaning terrible, terrible. They are referring to massive U.S. debt and unemployment. The pundits don’t understand how the U.S. can dig itself out of the mess. Others suggest that U.S. companies have better-than-ever balance sheets and low debt and are optimistic.

We’ve been here before. Often, toward the end of a depressing and bleak recession, a sea change internalizes within. We begin to exhibit optimism, and new ideas take root. Exciting consumer products evolve, and companies, catching the wave, begin to hire to meet unexpected demand.

I suspect that Ben Bernanke knows all this — he seems a smart man and one able, like the extremely rational-about-investing Mr. Buffett, to take the long view. I think he is simply doing everything he can to care for and shepherd the country along until the new economic wave builds and ultimately takes hold.

The thing is this — there’s nothing like a boom to get things humming. I pray that when it begins, and it will begin, that our leaders exhibit a modicum of thriftiness and work hard to not spend all the dollars they print.

Look forward to a good year. Focus on the fact that the market and the economy are not the same. (Repeat that about three times daily and, while the recession continues, take two aspirin, too.) Try to do good in your family, community and nation, and be thankful that we are in such a wonderful business, where we can truly help our customers and friends.

Happy New Year!

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