This is not quite a Dave Letterman Top Ten List, but rather some of my general observations made from recent travels and readings:

  • The financial crisis started as a subprime meltdown, first in the U.S., then Europe and now in Asia. The lesson learned is that “low doc” and “no doc” loans, “interest-only” and “no down payment” were a train wreck waiting to happen.
  • Not everyone has the right to own a home. You earn that right through prudent financial management and a sound lifestyle. Even then, bad things can happen to the best of people.
  • Ken and Barbie Doll houses or McMansions are no longer “in.” Energy efficient, simple and maintenance-free homes are the wave of the future, much like the trend in automobiles.
  • The crisis started with housing first, then banking, followed by the consumer and retail sector. It spread globally, with agriculture lagging, but eventually drawn into the downturn.
  • This economic crossroads will require people to re-examine their priorities in business, family and personal lives. People will be better for it.
  • The next decade will result in Generation X stepping forward in leadership positions with Baby Boomers and Veterans passing the baton. Will the younger generation be ready?
  • The economic health of the agricultural industry will be very dependent on the Asian region’s economy. Domestic and global politics, technology and consumer spending will be areas to watch, with the wild card being natural resource availability.
  • When people say assets or markets are at a new normal or plateau, watch out! The bubble is about to burst!
  • Understanding hindsight can be a big step toward establishing vision and purpose for the future. Americans are lacking history lessons that teach the wisdom of leadership.
  • Never say never. However, the sun always rises the next morning ready for a new day!
Editor’s note: Dave Kohl, Corn & Soybean Digest trends editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups. He can be reached at sullylab@vt.edu.