The last few days made me feel like I was in CERN’s LHC, racing at near light speeds, meeting challenges head-on, smashing them to bits in soundless but resplendent encounters! The rush of solving problems is addictive but the pace can sometimes take a toll. So, it appears that in the world of colliders, the fast and furious conjure up loaves of bread or bird feathers simply to take a break from it all! In the world of polymath’s, recreational cooking can help slow the pace some; aah the scent of pesto and garlic in hot olive oil!! Had a great time whipping up (and consuming) some spicy pesto shrimp!!! (Note: Ordinarily Henna doesn’t care for shrimp but this stuff is more than amenable to her – I think she just likes the idea of a man cooking for her while she is on conference calls… She takes this Women’s Development thing very seriously ;-D)
One of the many rabbits – umm particles – that I have been chasing thanks to the considerable motivational drive from my esteemed colleague HS Shajahan Merchant is the Debt Particle. From an AKEPB perspective, our discussions were centered around leveraging Saleemah Ahmed‘s team to lay out, in simple terms, some strategies that both early career professionals (read: college debt, for which you may want to also investigate income based repayment) and mid-career professionals could follow to mitigate debt service burdens in the short-term and the overall size of personal debt that they may be carrying in the long-run. Hopefully, by the end of this month, we should have a little card that provides quick pointers on getting out of (or at least reducing the burden of) undesired debt. Over the last few months, Saleemah’s team has been hard at work helping folks with debt management, so it made sense to ask them to create a quick checklist – a “Get Out of Debt” (as in Monopoly) card.
Now, we don’t need a collider to tell us that there are both Debt Particles and Anti-Particles. Debt can be good; the kind that fuels growth. Without instruments such as student loans, home loans, business loans, bonds, and so forth, our socio-economic engine would slow down to an excruciating crawl. In fact, it could lead to social injustices such as the imprisonment of the marginalized in deep wells of poverty and despair with not even a spark of hope for a way out. On the other hand, debt can also be bad; the kind that [shaky or illusory] growth fuels. Ninja loans anyone?
Carrying the particle analogy further, debt can be said to have mass, charge, and spin. Mass is obvious, the amount of debt carried. Charge, the debt service of course! Now for spin. This one requires a little twist to grasp. The spin is essentially the credit score (or credit rating for bonds). The better your credit score, the easier your access to cheaper credit – let’s call this spin “up”. “Down” spin is truly vicious. When you get in a credit crisis, your credit score drops (down spin), reducing access to credit and increasing your debt service. Which in turn would effect an increased need for debt, leading subsequently, to a further reduction in credit score; down spin could become self-perpetuating forming a downward spiral of despair.
The good news is that solutions exist. Solutions exist regardless of whether you hold Debt Particles or Antiparticles, regardless also of the mass, charge, and spin of those particles. Now, I’m not saying that it will be easy. Nor am I saying that this should encourage irresponsible behavior. On the contrary. My position remains that regardless of the economic landscape, excercise prudence in managing the mass, charge, and spin of the Debt Particles and resist the lure of Debt Antiparticles!!
PS: The “Get Out of Debt” card is still WIP. We will bring the compilation to you soon, perhaps in another forum – perhaps even in person! In the interim, feel free to help by sending me ideas that we should include on the “Get Out of Debt” card – while I go back to my particle smashing!