Yesterday I was looking at something that resembled a child's drawing of a slide: a shaky pencil thin line that started near the top of the page and then went down, down, down, down.
Of course it wasn't a child's drawing. It was a line graph of my stock portfolio. Once upon a time I had this silly idea that I would make some "conservative" investments so I could afford a good college education for my son and maybe even a house for myself. Now....well, all I can say is that it's a good thing he's smart because he's going to need that scholarship. And the upside of renting is that I don't have to try (and probably fail) to refinance a mortgage like everybody else around me.
As I considered if I needed to start selling stocks or shifting things around I began to wonder what companies were still doing well, or at least less badly than everybody else. I've heard Coca-Cola is doing okay. Nice to know that when all is said and done people will still spend their money on carbonated corn-syrup.
Disney is doing better than pretty much any of the other Hollywood studios (although that's not saying a lot at the moment). The studios are now suffering from excessive diversification. GE owns Universal along with a lot of financial holdings which are weighing the whole company down. Fox is suffering because Rupert Murdoch went around taking over all the country's major newspapers, many of which are now failing. But Disney, they have always been and always will be all about Disney. Feeling depressed about the economy? Why not forget your troubles at the Happiest Place on Earth with their buy four nights get three free package? Still can't afford it? Well, if you live within approximately 100 miles of one of their parks Disney will happily let you pay as little as $8.75/month for an annual pass (after you buy one ticket). Of course you'll probably want to buy yourself the $16 mouse ears and a $3 bottle of water and a $14 balloon while you're there. And let's not forget the Mickey shaped soft pretzel and that really cute Pooh Bear for your new nephew but when you think about how much you're saving on a ticket it's all good, right? Well, you can pretend it is. Just think of the necessary justifications as being part of the "fantasy experience." And the movies they've been making are quintessential Disney films aka feel good movies with a happy ending. Just what we all need during this troubled time.
And then there's Target. With both Meryvns and Circuit City gone it's impossible not to turn to Target for something, be it a new bluetooth or a new sundress. And now Target has once again made it possible for all of us to have those designer clothes that we quietly covet but could never before afford. As of today Target is selling a line by THE Alexander McQueen. Even if you're struggling to buy groceries a $40 outfit by McQueen might make you think about pulling out the check card.
I'm not saying that people should run out and buy stocks in these companies (although they're certainly a better bet than AIG) but I do think you can count on them being around next year and even the year after. Considering what's going on in the world that's saying something.
As for me, well I'm trying not to get too stressed about things. I have to remind myself (often) that the very fact that I HAVE a stock portfolio means that I'm better off than about 3/4 of the world's population. Seriously, next time you feel bad about your dumpy apartment turn on The Travel Channel and watch Andrew Zimmern tour some hut in a third world country so he can taste the freshly killed bats that the villagers are cooking up in an almost-clean pan. Yes, we've all had to cut back, many of us have had to cut back A LOT but the standard of living in this country is still insanely high and I don't see that changing any time soon. In this country when someone is forced to build themselves a make-shift hut to live in with no electricity or plumbing we call them "homeless."
It's just a good thing to keep in mind next time you're upset about having to cancel the family vacation. And if that isn't enough to soothe you go see a Disney movie.
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SO MUCH FOR MY HAPPY ENDING
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