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Talking about BusinessWeek's "The Case for Optimism"

Thom Ruhe on August 27, 2009 Source: e360 Blog

Taking a look at the newsstand lately, it may seem as if the covers of major periodicals are not - pardon the pun - on the same page.  Only a week or two after Newsweek proclaimed "The Recession is Over," BusinessWeek has followed with "The Case for Optimism."  Similar sure, but whereas Newsweek certainly IS being optimistic, I think BusinessWeek has a great point for entrepreneurs: "Sure, it has been a harrowing storm. And now is no time to discount the dangers that still exist. But opening your mind to optimism can help you seize the opportunities ahead." 

While it can be tempting (and perhaps safer) to hang back and wait out the recession before making any big business plans, BusinessWeek's Peter Coy argues that now is the perfect time to forge ahead. "Practical people should open their minds to the opportunities to be seized just as much as to the dangers to be dodged," he writes.  The online version even has a short slideshow detailing the signs of life for business owners.

In setting the stage for his "Case for Optimism," Coy brings up the following problems:

  • The loss of (just) a quarter-million jobs in July was greeted as good news.
  • Long-term unemployment and foreclosures continue to mount.
  • This is the worst economic downturn since the 1930s.
  • Health-care costs are out of control and an aging population around the globe is driving government spending through the roof.
  • Scientists say we need an expensive crash program to fight global warming or we'll incinerate ourselves.

With stuff like this going on every day, every WHERE, perhaps it's easy to side with the 53% of Americans from a recent Gallup poll that think the U.S. economic outlook is getting WORSE.

Things are always darkest before the dawn, and the two points Coy brings up for cautious optimism support that thinking:

1.) "Recessions such as this one... set the stage for future growth. As economist Joseph A. Schumpeter wrote in 1942, "creative destruction" shakes loose people from old, dying businesses and forces them to figure out new ways to be useful."  Green-collar jobs, anyone?  

2.) "Ingenuity is addictive. Equipping one or two billion more of the world's people with higher education and better technology... has increased humanity's ability to solve hard problems. The next world-changing breakthrough may come from China, or India, or Eastern Europe."

And it's in that spirit that I'll be operating for the next few months - as I encourage you to do as well, if possible - as we lead up to Global Entrepreneurship Week.  I blogged this past summer about getting to see first-hand entrepreneurship taking place in Morocco, and this fall is certain to be an exciting time in the entrepreneurship arena as well. In the months and weeks since then, I've seen it from those in the Mediterranean, Middle East, and all around the world. 

The recession's been tough, sure, even grueling at times.  It's lasted longer and hit harder than many thought it would.  But entrepreneurs have been doing their part - and we've been chronicling it here, every week - so I'm optimistic that the second half of the equation - E=R: Entrepreneurs = Recovery - will follow in time.

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