Some 2008 mistakes being repeated in 2018

Buz Livingston
Buz Livingston

Ten years ago the world’s economy almost collapsed. Noted philosopher George Santayana wrote, “when experience is not retained, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It’s not clear what we learned or if we have forgotten.

One problem in 2008 was large commercial banks did not have sufficient capital to withstand a financial downturn. In financial planning, a readily accessible, liquid emergency fund is essential. Plus money for short-term goals should never be invested in risky assets, like stocks, or illiquid assets, like real estate. On the positive side, banks now have more equity than they did years ago.

Another obstacle for banks in 2008 was their dependence on short-term borrowing to prop up lending and speculative trading. When Lehman Brothers went belly up, that type of borrowing dried up, and the entire financial system locked up. According to the Federal Reserve, banks have scaled back the short-term debt instruments popular 10 years ago.

However, the deregulation mania that fueled the Great Recession appears to be gaining a foothold. The current administration and Congress have pushed back against many financial guard rails. For example, legislators and regulators advocate lowering capital requirements for banks and allowing risky trading.

Remember the descriptor for large banks, “Too Big to Fail.” The premise was if one collapsed, the entire financial system was at risk. Nothing has changed. The five largest U.S banks still have 40 percent of all U.S bank assets. Next week, we will look at potential risks in the future.

Hurricane Michael

Michael obliterated Panama City Beach, Mexico Beach and Tyndall Air Force Base in neighboring Bay County. Earlier that day it was due south of Walton County, and no one knew if it would continue on its northerly track or bend toward the northeast as predicted. You may remember algebra or not, but hurricane tracking models rely on statistics, which is algebra on steroids.

Statistics also predict more extreme weather events due to climate change. Environmental concerns used to be non-partisan. President Richard Nixon, a California Republican, signed some of America’s strongest environmental legislation. In 1970 he kickstarted the EPA. The consensus among client scientists is the Earth’s environment is rapidly changing. Yes, some outliers disagree, but the fossil fuel industry funds them.

I love living by the coast, but the Gulf of Mexico during late summer and fall is a Petri dish for storms. As water temperatures continue to rise, expect more storms with increasing severity. Last year, Irma was the most costly hurricane in Florida’s history. This year Michael was a Category Three storm when it crossed the Georgia-Florida line. Higher summer temperatures cause longer fire seasons in the Rockies. We can learn or ignore, but nature always gets the last vote.

You can’t always get what you want, but Buz Livingston, CFP can help figure out what you need. For specific recommendations, visit or come by the office in Redfish Village, 2050 Scenic 30A, M-1 Suite 230.