It was not until my colleague Barry, here at the office and later my wife, Jeanette, complained about and explained their ailment that I discovered what all that hissing and buzzing I kept hearing really was. I had been for years blissfully ignoring what I presumed to be the ballast in a nearby fluorescent lamp or some other electronic nuisance. Now, suddenly, knowing it was all coming from inside my head and there was nothing that could be done for it, the tinnitus began driving me nuts.
This experience and education has enabled me to much more easily recognize that the incessant buzz over the ‘fiscal cliff’ is nothing more than financial tinnitus. We all know that at some point in time, taxes are going up and government spending is coming down. It is either that or national bankruptcy, and even in bankruptcy spending is cut and new sources of revenue required. Our economy has thrived in periods of higher taxes and lower federal spending in the past. It is not higher taxes or lower federal spending that is troubling business and the financial markets. It is uncertainty. Eventually we will have our certainty and the markets will be back to business as usual.
Rather than quietly debating a compromise solution within the walls of Congress and the White House, an incessant irritating chatter over a myriad of possible outcomes is being relentlessly emitted from televisions, radios, iPads, and smart phones. Like a wobbling top about to lose momentum and balance, no one can know precisely when or where it will all settle. If we knew, we could play the markets and get rich! But, settle it will; and no matter what anyone speculates, the outcome is bound to be some combination of higher taxes and reduced spending.
The beauty, however, is that unlike the buzzing inside my head, financial tinnitus can be shut off with the press of a remote control, the swipe of a finger across an iPad or Smart Phone, and the button on my radio alarm clock. Ah, there, that’s better.