Don't be ‘chicken' about recession

Published 2:29 am Wednesday, January 30, 2008

By Staff
The sky is falling. The sky is falling.” These are words from the story about Chicken Little, a misguided fowl who is hit on the head by a falling acorn, decides it is a piece of sky, is overcome with fear and takes off to tell the king of the impending demise of said sky. Along the way she (and despite what the story says I'm not convinced it was a female chicken) meets up with Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey and Turkey Lurkey, who hear her tale and also believe the end is near.
Last night listening to the evening news reporting on overseas financial markets and worries about our own stock market, I thought about Chicken Little. The reporter wasn't yelling “The sky is falling,” but he was coming darn close.
Made me want to find a mayonnaise jar and bury a few pennies in the backyard for the hard times that are coming. I know they are coming because the next story was “A Survival Guide for Hard Times."
Being a bit of a Henny Penny myself, I looked up recession so I'd understand what hit Chicken Little on the head. Recession happens when there is a period of two quarters of negative growth in the Gross Domestic Product, which is the total dollar amount of all goods and services produced. The growth rate is the percentage increase or decrease of GDP from the previous measurement cycle.
My simplified definition is the GDP goes down if we stop making and buying stuff. So even if I had extra, burying pennies might contribute to the very thing I'm trying to protect against.
You have to have dollars to spend dollars. And to have dollars, you have to have jobs that pay dollars, and to have jobs that pay dollars, you have to spend dollars on the stuff that jobs produce.
Round and round we go. Now it isn't only the United States where the sky is falling, but the rest of the world is also following Chicken Little.
Consider a story in today's New York Times. The first paragraph reads, “Markets in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney on Tuesday extended the losses they suffered Monday as fears of a recession roiled markets worldwide.”
Ah, “fear,” there is what got our little feathered friend going. It seems fear is the driving force behind a lot of what is going on in our world.
I'm not saying we shouldn't pay attention and use sense when it comes to economic issues, but are we, because of fear, predicting ourselves into the very thing we are so afraid is going to happen.
Perhaps we should take a step back and consider how the story of Chicken Little ends. In their rush to spread the news, Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey and Turkey Lurkey run into Foxy Loxy, who realizes their fear is his opportunity for exploitation. And the story ends with …
Of course, there is a kinder ending that I prefer. In that version, the king shows up in the nick of time, his dogs chase Foxy Loxy away, he presents Chicken Little with an umbrella removing any chance of falling acorns causing another crisis, and then tells Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosy Loosey and Turkey Lurkey to turn off the evening news and go shopping.
Nancy Blackmon is a columnist for The Andalusia Star-News.