April 19, 2011

Crisis - danger or opportunity?

I went on a couple of bike rides last weekend. On Saturday it was 50 degrees, damp and cold, and I saw some snow along the road. I had to stop and put my hat on under my helmet - but that may have something to do with being follically challenged.

Sunday it was in the mid-70s and I put on sunscreen before I went out. As Wisconsinites, we all know to expect the unexpected with spring weather, as anything can happen. (Interesting little tidbit: Did you know that while it snowed on April 1 this year, last year it was 81 degrees in Madison - an all-time record high?)

In today’s world, we need to expect the unexpected in both the physical world and the business world, which are ultimately interrelated. In the last decade, there have been unprecedented natural disasters with the Indonesian tsunami and the flooding in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina, as well as unimaginable manmade events such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the subprime mortgage crisis that led to the Great Recession.

The current landscape includes the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, major political turmoil in multiple Middle Eastern and northern African countries, the price of oil being well over $100 a barrel, and gas pushing toward $4 a gallon. Yet foreign stock markets are up 5% for the year and domestic markets are up 6%. That seems a bit surprising to me, but maybe volatility is the new norm and somehow less unsettling.
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