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Things still happened in the winter that wasn't.

We were able to Dig(in) for World Cup ski races, slide by with some pond hockey games and forget how to drive in those infrequent snowstorms. Preparing for the winter that wasn't meant that we might have bought unnecessary snowblowers or Yak Tracks. But the winter that wasn't has me thinking about other things that weren't.

Welcome to the recession that wasn't. The National Bureau of Economic Research determines whether we experienced a recession, but it looks like they will be swallowing their whistles. While gross domestic product could certainly slow, it appears that a full-blown recession has been avoided. The cost of this for investors has been potentially getting too conservative too soon. Short-term Treasuries are still earning around 5%, so the price paid was not necessarily recognized. But as rates drop, this will no longer be true.

Did I mention interest rates dropping? The stock market crash that wasn't was partly caused by the Federal Reserve lowering interest rates. Since stock markets are often based on future earnings expectations, lower interest rates mean borrowing costs fall and potential earnings rise. It also means alternative uses of cash are less attractive than accepting the volatility risk with stocks. It is not unusual for the S&P to fall by double digits in most years, but the anticipation of falling more than 20% and staying there for a while has not been met. Cash is needed for expenses occurring in the next two to three years, but longer-term money should be invested.

The vibrant real estate market that wasn't defied lower interest rates. The problem is that even though rates are lower, they are still higher that what many of us have been accustomed to. This makes moving to a more expensive home challenging because you not only are paying more for the house but paying significantly more for the interest part of the mortgage. Home prices accelerated because of low interest rates. The vibrant real estate market that wasn't is in part because there has not been enough inventory for prices to appropriately adjust. Pay attention to time on the market as an indicator of the direction housing prices are headed.

It's too early to say that we have completely avoided winter, recessions, crashes or vibrancy, but might we have over-prepared for what wasn't?

Spend your life wisely.

Ross Levin is the founder of Accredited Investors Wealth Management in Edina. He can be reached at