I think Franklin Roosevelt got it right: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Because sometimes the fear becomes bigger than the thing we're fearing.
We fear food prices will keep sky rocketing, so we horde food. And pretty soon, stores start fearing they're going to run out of that food, so they ration it — just today, Sam's Club doing that with rice. And rice prices climb all the more.
And it doesn't only happen with food or with regular folks like us.
Banks fear they'll get into a pickle again lending money out, so they stop lending money out.
We fear getting in too deep again borrowing, so we stop borrowing. So a bad thing becomes a really bad thing.
And everyone gets a little crazy. Like this past winter when the British bank Northern Rock reported some relatively minor credit issues and depositors panicked, taking whatever dough they had in the bank out of the bank. The run on Northern was so bad, the bank darn near failed, until it had to be rescued.
Fear is a funny thing because it says funny things. And it makes politicians say even funnier things.
"Recessions" suddenly become "depressions." Tight money becomes no money. And tough times become impossible times.
Fear has its place. I just hope we all keep our wits about us to keep it in its place.
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