small businesses

Parts of the Picture

photo shows small white and orange dog running through grass

There’s plenty about 2020 that is disorienting. Some parts of the picture seem to be going okay: spending is on the rise again, and some industries are seeing fresh growth and new opportunities this year.

Other indicators are worrying. Retail bankruptcies are piling up, and many small businesses are just hanging on.

What’s the deal? It’s head-spinning to hold all the pieces together… but they are all part of one economic picture, right?

We recently heard an analogy from Josh Brown of Ritholtz Wealth Management. Brown told Planet Money to picture a person walking a dog, “walking upright at a moderate pace, nothing terribly exciting.”

And then there’s the dog. He says, “Then let your eyes pan down a little bit. Look at the dog. … It’s chasing birds. It’s digging up clumps of mud. It’s running at trees. It’s peeing all over the place.”

The picture feels split, but Brown explains that the dog is the stock market; the person is the economy. They are parts of the same picture. The dog can be bouncing all over, but it doesn’t mean the person is too.

The market is reflecting the twists and turns, the frenzy of opportunities and announcements and shifts in focus. The economy as a whole, however, is on a promising course. While the country has not weathered this specific set of challenges before, it has come through others. Times like these bring pain and innovation.

The economic picture is a complex one, but it doesn’t have to be totally overwhelming. The savings and cash we need, long-term goals, and a little planning: that’s how we stay the course. The dog can bark all it wants.

Clients, when you want to talk about this or anything else, write or call.


The economic forecasts set forth in this material may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

Main Street Capitalism

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / MShake

Imagine what a world we would have, if the surest path to prosperity required each of us to be of service to the rest of us. But looking around, we may not even have to imagine it. I’m pretty sure Main Street already works on precisely that principle.

Jeff the grocer can only build sustainable increases in wealth and income by helping more people feed their families. He could try to raise prices or skimp on service or pass off inferior goods, but his trade would soon dry up and he would go broke. Customers would simply shop elsewhere. So instead he works to stock the foods that people want, at fair prices, as part of a pleasant shopping experience.

Likewise, Bob the car dealer can only prosper by helping more people get where they want to go, to and from work and shopping and entertainment and on vacation. He certainly could make more money in a short amount of time by tricking customers into bad deals, but most people can only be fooled once. The trickery would doom his business.

Kevin in the auto parts store is legendary for his ability to put the right parts and tools in the hands of his customers, so they can fix their troubles. He helps people take care of their vehicles and keep them on the road.

Leibman Financial Services is not immune. Competitors abound. We have to work hard to deliver more value per dollar of cost than anyone else can, to help people pursue their financial goals.

You see the pattern, right? We prosper by helping one another. If we aren’t of use to our customers, we don’t keep the customers. When we do it right, everybody benefits. Everyone is better off. When we don’t do it right, the discipline of the marketplace is harsh and swift. All the other businesses on Main Street, and the professionals offering medical and dental and pharmacy services, are in exactly the same circumstances. We prosper by helping one another.

This is the moral basis of capitalism.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.