Things to watch out for this yearJanuary 12, 2009: 12:47 PM ET
The storm clouds have gathered. Hell, it's raining. But that doesn't mean we have to be stupid. So I've decided to avoid, deride and abjure the following group of bad actors that right now are circling in the mist:
First, the Executioners. There are those, mostly from Wharton, for some reason, who believe that every problem in the business universe can be solved by firing people. While this does solve some problems immediately after we leave fat city, it begins to pale as a strategy well before those who are addicted to it decide to put down their quick fix. I'm going to keep a keen eye out for these types and see if I can leave them at the station after the rest of us have departed for better climes.
Next, Revisionistas. These are the guys who are working real hard to avoid accepting the blame for what has happened, and are spending most of the time repositioning themselves and their cadre. We know who's to blame. Everybody. But in the end? I'm going to regard these losers as I would a bunch of teenagers caught with a bag of weed. It's usually the guy who protests his innocence the loudest who's the dealer.
Rear Admirals: Of course there are those who were very happy in the last iteration of our economy. They'll be out in force trying to kill the new one. Did you know that Franklin D. Roosevelt was responsible for the Great Depression of the 1930s? Neither did I. But these guys do. Know why? Because if Roosevelt was a bad guy, the fellow who's being compared to him right now must be too, right? Look, friends. If there's one thing we know, it's this: over the past decade or two, we've been spun. Let's not get twirled by the same spin doctors again, now that for the most part the only spinning they should be doing is down the drain.
Insecurity Analysts: Bozos to the left of us! Bozos to the right of us! And still we fight on. The job of an analyst is to look at a specific company and run models. Their models are fraudulent, stuck together with bad glue and yet they continue to analyze, because they are analysts, and that's what they do. Inherent in their deal is that they look at each company they cover as if it existed in a bubble. Why? Because their job is to analyze and so on and blah blah blah. If they won't shut up, it doesn't mean we have to listen. If I never hear another learned opinion from one of these guys it will be too soon.
Economists: See above.
Ostriches: They live all around us, their butts in the air, their heads in the sand. A lot of the time they're in charge of budgets, but they can also be in any cornice of the corporation. And while doing business as usual is a good thing, a nice look around at the operating environment doesn't hurt, either. Ostriches are scared, impatient and likely to run for the horizon at the slightest perturbation. They make me nervous. Nervous is bad.
Weasels: In spite of all appearances, there are those who always believe, perhaps as a demented part of the American dream, that every horrible eventuality carries with it the seeds of tremendous opportunity. Perhaps it does, for Warren Buffet. For the rest of us, this not a time for greed and getting over on our fellow citizens. I partially blame business magazines, many of which now sport huge cover stories about how 2009 is going to be A GREAT YEAR FOR YOU! It's not. My goal is to live through it. I'm not looking for a huge upside, and I've got a real gimlet eye for anybody offering me one.
Rastas: Don't worry. Be happy. Ridiculous, right? On the other hand... We've already got the dreads.