“Welcome to my cooking channel. Have you ever had that longing for fresh-baked butter croissants? Today I’m going to show you have to make them so they come out perfectly shaped and flavorful every single time. Your friends and coworkers will assume you’ve spent time in a French pâtisserie perfecting your craft. Make sure to hit the ‘subscribe’ button.”
There is perhaps nothing more certain in this world of digital media and influence than the certainty of a home chef explaining in 15 minutes, with individualistic panache, humor, and of course, a dash of self-deprecation, how to deliver a desirable item of food that is practically perfect in every way.
After all, that’s what we’re looking for in a cooking show, right?
It’s so appealing and convincing that I’m fully bought in, each and every time. And chances are, you have, too. I personally went into a full-blown baking obsession (as did many) during the pandemic years, and it was only when I surpassed a quarter ton of flour that I realized I may have gone overboard.
Or maybe it isn’t cooking, but DIY home crafting, or working on your engine block, or replacing your HVAC system. Certainly, it’s as straightforward as it might seem.
But that is also why we compensate experts for their time. It is not simply that they can do the thing we want done faster and probably cheaper, but that they can do it correctly with certainty every time. We pay for the certainty. I’ve tried churning my own butter, and through that disaster, I have come to accept this reality.
But when we look at the world around us, there is precious little that is “certain” except for someone bringing up that joke about death and taxes.
This is in part why senior reporter Vincent Ryan’s coverage of the various economic forces in play is so important. In his latest piece, Ryan focused on the unexpectedly high nonfarm payroll increase from the BLS last Friday. On the surface, a large headline number is theoretically a good thing because it means jobs are being added to a sluggish economy. But on the other hand, as Ryan wrote:
“An even tighter job market than expected could push up wage bills for 2024. Inflation in the 3% range and higher could stick around for longer or worsen as labor demand outstrips supply... It also boosts the argument for another 25-basis-point interest rate increase by the FOMC at its November or December meetings.”
On the other-other hand, as Moody’s Chief Economist Mark Zandi wrote:
The more I dig into the Sept jobs report, the more I like it. The job market is strong, but not too strong to forestall lower inflation. All signs suggest the economy is at full-employment, not beyond, and labor supply is keeping up with labor demand. Couldn’t be much better.— Mark Zandi (@Markzandi) October 6, 2023
With such a push and pull, I’m reminded of the parable of the Chinese farmer who, faced with a variety of circumstances that appeared good or bad, patiently examined the situation and potential outcomes:
The farmer steadfastly refrained from thinking of things in terms of gain or loss, advantage or disadvantage, because one never knows ... We never really know whether an event is fortune or misfortune; we only know our ever-changing reactions to ever-changing events.
Whether you, as a finance executive, think of the current situation as good or bad, advantageous or not, each facet is an opportunity to expand your capacity for leadership and direct your teams to success.
Or you could go to a Bananas game. You will undoubtedly have a good time.