Planning for Growth

It’s miserable outside. So why am I thinking about the garden?

Outside we’re getting a true nor’easter, to be followed by sub-zero temperatures. Welcome to March in New Hampshire. I’ve been enjoying this time of year in Northern New England for 30 years now, off and on, and while it doesn’t make me an old-timer, it does give me some perspective.

And right now my thoughts turn to—gardening. Ordering seeds, getting out the grow-lights, and getting my broccoli, tomato, and pepper plants started. Because successful gardening looks past the weather outside to the underlying realities: the snow will melt, the ground will thaw, and when the growing season starts, you need to be ready.

It’s like that with the economy. The most visible numbers look miserable. Unemployment is 8.9%; 14 million people in the US are looking for work. Under the surface, though, things are looking up: initial claims for unemployment have fallen significantly; average wages continue to grow; the number of people working shorter hours is falling.

The underlying dynamics are clear: the economy is gradually getting better. The latest report confirms this positive trend. But bad news sells papers; if it bleeds, it leads. That’s why headlines tend to read, “Jobless Rate Still High” rather than “Quarter of a Million Find Work.”

But if you follow the headlines, you’ll miss the trends. And you’ll end up unprepared when the growing season starts. Because when Memorial Day rolls around, I’ll be ready to set out my plants. And when the economy accelerates, you need to be ready with your portfolio.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
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