Why is it so easy for us to put off doing the things we know would make life better only to continue doing the things that gratify us now? Even when we commit to long-term goals like diet, exercise, saving or planning, we marvel at how easily we are distracted by momentary temptations. The problem in a neurological nutshell is that we have a flaw built into our brains - we overvalue immediate gains at the expense of long-term opportunities or costs.

Whatever economists ultimately label this period in American history, no doubt fear will play a large part in their description of it. Confidence numbers among consumers, investors, voters, and businesses hit all-time lows in 2008 and are only gradually coming back. The declines in economic indicators this summer sparked new fears, including a return to recession, even deflation. The new wave of trepidation drove many investors out of stocks once again and back into the short-term safety of money markets and short Treasuries.

News continues worsen in financial markets throughout the world. No economy is free from the carnage with more than $25 trillion erased from global equities in 2008. The Dow Jones Industrials index is now down more than 43% from its record high a year ago. This week represents the worst for the S&P 500 since 1933.