It depends on perspective

By DAVID MOON, Moon Capital Management, LLC
August 8, 2010

The University of Tennessee football family buried a gentle giant this past Wednesday. Former offensive lineman Harry Galbreath was the kindest soul, the type of person it was impossible not to love. Peyton Manning might be the fan’s choice as the most popular former Tennessee football player, but among former players "Harry Love" (his nickname) was the most beloved Vol of at least the past 30 years. He was larger than life in every imaginable way - the kind of person that captivated a room with his massive smile and even larger presence.

He was the definition of sincere and loyal.

He was also perhaps the meanest SOB ever to play in the NFL.

When Harry Love, the lovable Teddy bear, strapped on his helmet, he became a one-man disaster, wreaking havoc on the health of those around him. When Harry blocked people he didn't try to hurt them; he tried to kill them. NFL All-Pro linebacker Ken Norton, Jr. told me that being hit by Harry on a goal line play was the most painful thing he ever experienced in his 12-year pro career. He said that if Harry had a three-yard running start, it was better to be knocked unconscious than fully realize what he had done to you.

If Harry ever grasped an opponent with his massive hands, it was no different than a deer being caught in a trap. Something bad was going to happen.

Those were the same massive hands that, off the field, so freely embraced friends and never met strangers.

How could Harry the killer also be Harry Love? It depends on your perspective.

* * * * *

Is this the summer of economic recovery, or are we still suffering through the worst recession of our adult lives?

This is neither as simple nor obvious as some would believe. People will see what they choose to see.

Gross Domestic Product in the US increased approximately 2.4 percent in the second quarter of this year, following a 3.7 percent increase in the first quarter. By definition, we are no longer in a recession.

Of the 70 percent of the S&P 500 companies that have reported second quarter earnings thus far, 74 percent have beaten analysts’ expectations.

That’s the Teddy bear economic news.

Unemployment remains above nine percent, however, a level the US has only once previously maintained for three consecutive years – during the Great Depression.

More than 100 banks have failed in 2010, compared to fewer than 80 at this point a year ago.

The Congressional Budget Office warns that the federal deficit is on track to exceed our GDP in less than 15 years. This previously occurred in only one brief period, following World War II. For most of our country’s history the ratio has stayed well below 40 percent.

Small businesses struggle for access to credit. Home prices continue to fall in many parts of the country.

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke explicitly warned that the economy was re-weakening, although Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner spent a full Sunday recently on the news talk shows combating that opinion.

Economic grizzly bear or Teddy bear? It depends on your perspective.

David Moon is president of Moon Capital Management, a Knoxville-based investment management firm. This article originally appeared in the News Sentinel (Knoxville, TN).

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