Market Mind Games

Emotion, risk and market behaviors

Anyone's Anger & Your Economic Future

Conquering Contagious Desperation

A few months ago I was talking with a consultant in Chicago who has a dual Ph.D. in Behavioral Economics and Psychoanalysis. She startled me when she said "People are desperate out there".

But then I began to see it — the number of emails and calls offering me a product that should be part of what we do, the potential employee with whom we shared some opportunities, decided not to hire because of his displayed desperation to attend a meeting with me and then the discovery that he went straight to the client we had discussed. (Check — proof of good decision- at least on the non-hire part!) 

"People are holding onto to their money" said the founder of a well-known consulting firm.

Now I believe they are both right. And it impacts all of us.

Goldman Sachs is laying off and cutting bonuses. (And yes most of the world thinks that is only fair). Whether it is or isnt, isn't the point. Every time each one of us doesn't buy or doesn't hire because of a real or perceived lack of cash flow, it contributes to the economic malaise we are in. For every GS trader receiving less money, there is less money flowing throughout the restaurants, health clubs, taxis and clothing stores they frequent. That means there is less money flowing to the suppliers of all of the above.

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It's easy — and frankly justified — to be angry. If you are over 60, the future you thought you built has run into a brick wall, if you are over 40, the question of how to pay for your kids college and save anything is paramount, if you are over 20, you are wondering how you are going to get a job or if you have got one, ever get promoted to something challenging in this "wavering" environment.

There's a lot of angst out there. And it is for good reason. The question is what can any one individual do to help themselves?

Which actually makes me think of the 1976 movie Network and Howard Beale's "I'm angry as hell and I am not going to take it anymore".

Anger that is understood, anger that knows its true provocateur can be very productive. Anger that does not, can be very destructive - to the one angry and to the unlucky recipients of confused and contorted anger acted out.

Futhermore, denying anger or turning it all on yourself, tends to severely limit your thinking and therefore your options. Sure some of what is happening to you actually is your fault — but the key word is "some." Some is also the general economy, the people or environment you were raised in and the ever-twisting luck of the draw. It helps to have at least a vague idea of how much of what you feel can be attributed to what source. It most certainly doesn't not help to be wildly off the mark in understanding or wallowing in what amounts to blame.

Why do I bring it up?

I happen to believe that the more people who can come to properly understand their frustrations and disappointments, the better chance we would all have of moving the economy - i.e. reduced risk via more emerging opportunities. For every person that takes the energy of their righteous indignation and turns it into their own lemonade stand, there is a potentially lucrative small business ready to hire the next person.

In short, dissecting one's own so-called negative emotions has potential individual economic and market benefits. Knowing your own internal instigators can give you space to take the next self- empowering step away from the desperation noted above.

How do I know?

It's worked for me and it's worked for the clients who have been open to learning how to do it.

Denise Shull is the author of Market Mind Games, a game-changer in how we think about anything that seems risky.


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