Updated from 1:36 p.m. EDT

Let's Make It Easy

( At 12:15 p.m. EDT)

Not all is well. Talk about an understatement. Everything is horrible. Couldn't be worse. Run for the hills, and stock the caves.

Here's just a little evidence from the past few days that this downturn refuses to give up its hold. American Express ( AXP) said Monday it would cut 4,000 jobs. Nobody liked Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) after it failed to say that tech land was about to see a sharp rebound. Weekly jobless claims edged lower, but were still well above 600,000, and continuing claims rose to a new record. Mixed commentary from the Federal Reserve.

Bad, folks. Nothing to like here. You'd have to be pretty foolish to want anything to do with equities.

One click away over on RealMoney you'll find plenty of experts telling you why you have to beware of the rally of the past two months. The time has come for those of us who aren't on board to join them. Let's go.

There. It certainly is more rewarding to say it's all over. Look at the market. It knows. The Dow lost some 130 points to 8292. Only seven of its 30 stocks were up. That should answer all your questions.

Wait a second. Go back to September, a mere eight months ago. Every day it seemed another decades-old Wall Street institution was in danger of, or in fact was, vanishing off the face of the earth. At its worst, it felt like the nation itself, or at least its economic system, was on the verge of collapse. Terrifying.

Think now about how far we've come. Do you truly appreciate that the worst-case scenario has been averted? We've survived the stress tests. Banks that need to raise capital are raising capital. Firms of all sizes are looking for ways to repay the TARP. I've said it before, though it bears repeating, the doomsday scenario is over.

A few things are providing reasons to believe we have a future. The IPO market is improving. Mergers are getting done. Companies are selling new stock and seeing their shares fight off the downward pressure. The government has put hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy to keep it from falling apart.

Without question we have a long way to go. If we get to double-digit unemployment, we're going to be in trouble. This nation depends heavily on consumer spending, and when consumers aren't working, they aren't going to spend. Some banks have gone out of business, others have been absorbed. Chrysler has filed for bankruptcy, and worries remain abundant about the future of GM ( GM), though even it got some upbeat news today. We're still here.

I have wondered many times in the past year if we would be in the same situation if banks weren't publicly traded. I really don't know if Citigroup ( C) and Bank of America ( BAC) are better enterprises because they have issued common stock.

Regardless, what's done is done, and we have to move forward, not backward, fixing what can be fixed and trying to keep history from repeating itself. We're getting there. Not in a single day, but we're getting there.

Or maybe we shouldn't even bother. All is bad, you know. Forget the light at the end of the tunnel. Wake me up if we get to the other side. If you think the party's almost over, then live it up while you can. How irresponsible to suggest that occasionally something good happens.

Feel better now?

More from Personal Finance

How Small-Cap Stocks Can Protect Your Portfolio From a Trade War

How Small-Cap Stocks Can Protect Your Portfolio From a Trade War

When Is It 'Worth It' to Work With a Financial Advisor?

When Is It 'Worth It' to Work With a Financial Advisor?

Why Millennials Are Ditching Stocks for ETFs

Why Millennials Are Ditching Stocks for ETFs

Amazon Prime Day 2018: When Is It and What Should You Know?

Amazon Prime Day 2018: When Is It and What Should You Know?

When Is the FAFSA Deadline and What Are the Application Requirements?

When Is the FAFSA Deadline and What Are the Application Requirements?