Amid Turmoil, Pessimists Miss Out on Profits
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad must really be kicking himself. It now seems that the [notably demented] President of Iran may be the latest victim of the law of unintended consequences.
Some may recall that several weeks ago Ahmadinejad threw his support behind the protestors in Egypt, thinking there uprising against then-President Hosni Mubarak would be a great step for Islam. He must have been surprised when just days after Mubarak stepped down, that Tehran was one of four Middle Eastern capitals crowded with protestors of their own.
What Iran's President, infamous for denying the Holocaust, failed to realize is that neither the revolt in Egypt, nor the ensuing uprisings in Algeria, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia, and his own country were not about the spread of Islam, but the end of "oppressive dictatorships."
In the end, Ahmadinejad's backing of the protestors in Egypt may prove to be his undoing.
Aside from there obvious implications in global politics, there are two extremely interesting aspects to these revolts. First, they've been nearly bloodless; especially as compared to previous conflicts. Consider that during the American Revolution there were roughly 25,000 Americans killed. About 2,500 Americans were killed in the Spanish-American War, which is more than the totals being released by the separate countries now in turmoil - combined.
The second fact worth noting about these revolts is that they were organized largely using new technology including social media. It seems to be increasingly apparently to regimes the world over that it is extremely difficult to maintain control over their subjects, given the rapid availability of information in today's modern world. The dumbest thing the Chinese government has done in the last several decades may have been to open up their country to the internet. In the long run, doing so will almost surely keep them from maintaining control of their citizens under their current political system. That bell can't be un-rung.
Aside from the $4/gallon gasoline that may result from the turmoil in the Middle East, things continue to look up for the American economy. Manufacturing indices continue to show signs of improvement, and employment appears to have stabilized, even begun to recover mildly. Several weeks ago we noted Fortune Magazine's list of the 100 Best Companies to work for in 2011.
At the time it was published roughly 80 of the companies on the top 100 list were hiring. In fact, 25 of the 100 had at least 700 openings each. Almost 137,000 jobs were open in those 25 companies alone.
Unfortunately, far too many people are still holding tightly to the cynicism that has plagued them for the past several years. Despite the signs of improvement and continued recovery, many continue to wait for the world to fall apart.
It seems, sadly, that the average American investor just can't catch a break. They get overly optimistic when times are good, then get slaughtered when events like 2008 come along. Or they get overly pessimistic and miss out on tremendous opportunities during the recovery.
In the same vein, all-too-often people get excited about the prospects of new political leaders (e.g. Obama) and the "Change" they'll bring. Very rarely do they get anything done - or in this case: what little change there is will likely be repealed. Then, just when people get sluggish or lose interest in politics, there are a half-dozen revolts simultaneously across some of the world's largest oil exporters in the Middle East and North Africa.
All in all, given today's circumstances we see far more reason to be optimistic than pessimistic. Certainly there are times when the future looks less bright, but there's always opportunity SOMEWHERE, some cause for optimism. One of our clients summed it up quite nicely and succinctly: "Negative people never make money." Truer words may never have been spoken.