These are difficult times for Americans as we watch in disbelief our government's continued dysfunctionality in the face of impending crisis. The rising shrill of the media and political jabs only make matters worse. We wanted to share some facts we hope will assuage fears and put the current situation in a more realistic context.

It’s been a busy week in the world of finance. As you have no doubt heard, no thanks is due to the Congressional ‘super-committee’ in their failure to agree on cuts to the nation’s swelling deficit. Fitch, the last of the big three credit-rating agencies lowered the US credit outlook to negative making the probability of a downgrade from AAA greater than 50%. Retailers and investors popped Champaign corks on the news of Black Friday’s $11.4 billion record sales. US unemployment fell to 8.6% on the strength of 278,000 new hires and 315,000 Americans leaving the workforce. Manufacturing, housing, and construction data show improvement while American and European political leaders do not.