As recession fears cause the professional investors, traders and speculators to nervously scurry about, conservative, amateur investors still can do well in a down economy. Here's how and why:

- HOUSING. If you're going to buy a house, do it now. Housing prices in most areas will go up by between 5 and 9 percent, and most of the gain will occur after April. The catalyst will be 30-year fixed-rate mortgages falling below 9 percent."While the housing market has slowed a bit in most areas, and by a lot in a few, good buying opportunities may only last a few months,"said Pfister, vice president/research for Chicago Title Insurance Company. "Between falling home mortgage rates and a recovering economy, a change in consumer confidence could quickly turn today's buyer's market into a seller's market."

- STOCKS. Generally, some of the best buys in 1991 will be in the stock market, especially if you're in for the long term. If The Meyers Report forecast of a quick turn around is correct, then the Dow Jones Industrial average could blast past 3000 within a few months, otherwise it will take a little longer, but it will happen.

"If you believe in the future of this country, then you must believe in the stock market," said stock and bond expert Len Walter, financial editor for WBBM-CBS Radio in Chicago. "There are some extremely good buys in this market. Some stocks with good balance sheets have been beaten down so far that they have to be bought."

- BONDS still look good long term. Should the Mideast crisis get hot, bonds will soar temporarily as people flee to quality. Alert investors will have a window of opportunity for a quick windfall, if they have the confidence to move away from the general herd.

- GOLD and SILVER. Don't put your money on either. There are surpluses of both metals, a lack of industrial demand and neither

is considered a hedge against disaster and strife anymore. Prices for gold and silver are now $391 and $4.17 per ounce, respectively. By this time next year, both metals should be down by 5 percent or more. There will be a quick runnup if and when shooting starts in the Mideast. However, any price jump will last only as long as the conflict itself.

CREDIT UNIONS EXTRAORDINARILY SOUND, DESPITE RHODE ISLAND RED

Earlier this week, Bruce G. Sundlun, the newly elected governor of Rhode Island, celebrated his first three hours in office by closing down 45 financial institutions in his state that were not federally insured.

"Among those were 35 credit unions, which, as of this date, had not been declared insolvent," said Bob Loftis, spokesman for the National Credit Union Administration, the federally backed agency that insures deposits at 13,000 CUs.

The row was kicked off when the state's private deposit insurer, the Rhode Island Share and Deposit Indemnity Corp., declared that it was facing some extraordinary liquidity demands. Their problem stemmed from the alleged theft of millions of dollars by a bank officer from one of the savings banks RISDIC insured. This caused the failure of that bank and a huge cash demand on the insurance fund.

"The governor didn't seem to have a plan in place before he closed the institutions," said Jerry Karbon, spokesman for the Madison, Wisconsin-based Credit Union National Association, the primary trade association for credit unions.

According to the NCUA, 22 of the 35 CUs in question, should be federally insured in about a week and reopened.

"If 22 of the 35 affected CUs are eligible for federal insurance, why were they closed in the first place? Closing them has caused unnecessary grief for their members and CUs throughout the nation," asked Karbon.

"The governor may not have had any choice," said Loftis. "Plan or no plan, a possible bank run would have severely hurt the healthy CUs as well as the weak ones."

Rhode Island is relatively unique and does not reflect the health of the nation's credit unions. Fifty percent of Rhode Island's CUs are not federally insured. Across the nation, however, "...90 percent of the credit unions and 97 percent of their assets are federally insured," said Loftis.

Only two months ago we covered why credit unions are safe. It's editorially responsible and worth repeating now.

"CUs haven't experienced the problems of S&Ls and banks, because we make the safest loans around: consumer and home mortgages to our members," said Karbon.