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Irrational exodus

Economic turnarounds start with those who eye the economy's healthy aspects.

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Recessions end when people finally focus on an economy's strengths more than its frailties. This week, global markets became gripped by fears of a possible US recession. So what would it take to end this recession before it starts?

It would require American consumers, as well as investors and banks, to buck the raging herd of bears and look at what still drives the world's largest economy – while also pruning away what has not proven of value.

Economic positives in the United States can still be found in many areas. The education and healthcare industries, a $3.5 trillion economy unto themselves, will continue to be strong. Midwest grain farmers can't meet world demand. Investments in telecommunications and energy remain strong. The US dollar is still the king of currencies. Export markets are now more than twice as large a share of GDP as US home construction. And the necessary shakeout in house prices is well under way as more banks write off bad loans and receive large foreign investments.

Workers still sock away money in 401(k)s with an eye on the long term. Joblessness is up slightly (and still low) but claims for unemployment insurance have dropped.

And interest rates remain low enough to spur investments, especially after Tuesday's emergency 0.75 percentage-point drop by the Federal Reserve in the type of interest rate that banks charge each other.

The wise need to look at the healthy fundamentals more than to the Chicken Littles who sell fear as a commodity and revel in their self-reinforcing predictions.


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