There's a Recession??

The Rocket Scientists at the National Bureau of Economic Research announced today that we were in a recession.  Whoa!  I've been telling anyone who will listen (my kids, sometimes, my wife, less,  my parrot, most of the time) that we have been in a recession since November of last year.   The NBER called it for December '07, so I was a month off.  But I've been saying this for a year!! I bet if they had asked any small business owner they would have gotten the same answer, and a lot quicker.

Not that calling a recession a recession makes any difference.  Well, okay, it did make a difference to the stock market today, which plummeted almost 700 points.  But if you are like me, you've already lost so much money that its beyond the point of mattering.  We will now all be working until we are 80.  Fries with that?

Anyway, calling it a recession just makes people more nervous.  We have been noticing that business has been slowing, and customers are more jittery, for a good 12 months.   Orders are slower, customers are more likely to cancel or return a purchase (no problem there), and pricing seems to be the #1 consideration in any purchase.   All told, we are probably about 7 to 10% off from last year.  Try getting that much honesty out of a publicly traded company!   The 10% isn't even bad relative to our industry (furniture), which is off at individual stores by as much as 70%! That is all anecdotal from various furniture reps and the buzz from the furniture market, but if its even half-true, then I am grateful for our small decline.

Back to my main point: Calling it a recession is just a label.  What really matters is how comfortable or uncomfortable you are with your situation right now.   If you are very nervous, don't do anything that will keep you up at night.  Coffee, okay.  Hedge-fund investment, not okay.   Big furniture purchases...up to you.   As real estate salespeople, car salesmen, and other big-ticket item vendors like to say..."there's never been a better time to buy".  That may be true,   but its never a good time to do anything with your money if it gives you a knot in your stomach...during a recession or any other time