Our View: Looking for any kind of a brightside

It seems these days as though the world is ending. Every hour seems to bring some new sign that this country is in the midst of a financial meltdown from which we will never emerge.

But before you go digging a bomb shelter in your parents’ backyard, consider that there are at least a few bright spots to the downturn of the economy.

&bull The Bureau of Economic Analysis recorded a personal saving rate of more than 3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. Only three years ago, the U.S. had a negative savings rate, and in the past, we’ve been known internationally as a nation of people living paycheck to paycheck. And in a BEA report released last week, the personal saving rate has climbed to 4.2 percent.

&bull The U.S. dollar is doing surprisingly well against the Euro ($1 US=$.75 ), the Chinese yuan ($1 US= $6.83), the Canadian dollar ($1 US= $1.26) and the Japanese yen ($1 US= $98.79). Sure, the rate against the Euro doesn’t look great, but it’s better than the Dec. 17, 2008, rate where one Euro would have cost you nearly a buck and a half.

&bull The rate on subsidized Stafford student loans is 6 percent now and will drop to 3.4 percent by 2011.

&bull The Case-Shiller home price index – which is a national monthly average of single-family house prices – has fallen more than 19 percent from this time a year ago.

&bull The Mortgage Bankers Association is recording historically high refinancing rates because of the historically low home mortgage rates, which brings us to…

&bull The average rate for a 30-year mortgage is down to 4.61 percent nationwide, and the average price of a home in the Midwest is $129,600, meaning a typical downpayment on a house is going to be a little less than $13,000.

Other than showing our cleverness in finding all of this information, what does any of this actually mean?

Well, it means that for the first time since the Great Depression, Americans are saving more, meaning while people may be freaking out about their immediate future and not spending, they’re also unwittingly building up a nest egg for the future.

While traveling in Europe may still be expensive, a road trip to Canada’s not unreasonable, and the price you pay for imported goods will probably stay low.

If you’re in the market for a student loan this year or next, your interest rate won’t be absurd.

Your parents might be able to refinance to a lower rate, save some dough and maybe throw a little of it your way.

And if you’re graduating sometime this year – or looking to settle down for a while – you might actually be able to buy a home.

This may not be a silver lining to the dark clouds hanging over our nation. It may not be the window opening as a door closes.

But it could still always be worse.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.