We don't often quote Franklin D. Roosevelt in this newspaper, but we think that in light of the current state of the financial markets on Wall Street and around the world, the 31st president was right: the only thing we have to fear is, indeed, fear itself.
As of last Friday, the stock market had closed close to 8,000—a drop of almost 4,000 points from its historic high a year ago. This is certainly cause for concern. But by no means should we allow concern to grow and expand to the point where it becomes panic. Some members of the financial community are running around in circles, screaming, "The sky is falling" like Henny Penny. Those readers familiar with fairy tales will remember what happened to Henny Penny and her friends—a fox came along and gobbled them up, illustrating the dangers of panicking.
The last time we looked, the sky was still in place, and so, too, was the ground, where people of good will and clear vision have planted their feet, determined not to allow themselves to be swayed by any passing breeze. We believe they are right in their belief and in placing their confidence that the current tumult will soon be resolved. Our economy is still the soundest in the world. We are still the richest, most prosperous nation on earth.
We have problems, we do not deny. We believe, however, that we can overcome them if we remain true to our principles, those principles on which this nation was founded. We would do well to remember that 200 years ago, 32 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, marking the official beginning of the United States of America, this nation by today's standards was a third-world country. The rest of the world—the so-called "great powers"—considered us a fledging upstart that would never achieve any real, lasting significance among the family of nations. Two hundred twenty-eight years later we are a world leader, especially in finance and commerce. We succeeded and prevailed.
In 1776 we embarked on a journey that has not ended. We became the strong, stalwart nation we are because along with the principles of free men exercising free will to guide their own destiny we also believed in a free market economy. Our government lends businesses, even the stock market, a helping hand when one is needed, but does not seek to manipulate markets or currencies.
Some mistakes have been made by businesses and sectors of the market. Those mistakes can and will be corrected. Most important, none of them are irrevocable. Our ship of state might have sailed too close to some treacherous waters, but we are being steered away from them even as we write this and you read it. FDR was right: the only thing that can sink this ship of state is fear. We do not believe that our readers are so lacking in judgment and discretion that they will let what amounts to a momentary setback permanently damage their present situations or their future hopes. We are too smart and too determined for that.