Below, I’ve liberally excerpted from an article I read a couple years back that always stuck with me.
Since our challenge today is to know
whom to trust and which story to believe, I thought I’d bring this one
back to the forefront, because the parallels are so striking between
the late 1920’s and now.
Below is a graph of the Dow Jones during the
years of the 1920’s bubble, the stock market crash of 1929, and the
onset of the Great Depression. The numbers in bubbles indicate when one
or more quotes from a famous expert were captured.
I happen to believe that we are somewhere between points #7 and
#12, and so those are the quotes I’ve reproduced from the article.
I get chills every time I re-read them…
"The decline is in paper values, not in tangible goods and
services…America is now in the eighth year of prosperity as
commercially defined. The former great periods of prosperity in America
averaged eleven years. On this basis we now have three more years to go
before the tailspin."
– Stuart Chase , NY Herald Tribune, November 1, 1929
"Hysteria has now disappeared from Wall Street."
– The Times of London, November 2, 1929
"The Wall Street crash doesn’t mean that there will be any general or
serious business depression… For six years American business has been
diverting a substantial part of its attention, its energies and its
resources on the speculative game… Now that irrelevant, alien and
hazardous adventure is over. Business has come home again, back to its
job, providentially unscathed, sound in wind and limb, financially
stronger than ever before."
– Business Week, November 2, 1929
"…despite its severity, we believe that the slump in stock prices
will prove an intermediate movement and not the precursor of a business
depression such as would entail prolonged further liquidation…"
– Harvard Economic Society (HES), November 2, 1929
"… a serious depression seems improbable; [we expect] recovery of business next spring, with further improvement in the fall."
– HES, November 10, 1929
"The end of the decline of the Stock Market will probably not be long, only a few more days at most."
– Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics at Yale University, November 14, 1929
"In most of the cities and towns of this country, this Wall Street panic will have no effect."
– Paul Block (Pres. of the Block newspaper chain), editorial, November 15, 1929
"Financial storm definitely passed."
– Bernard Baruch, cablegram to Winston Churchill, November 15, 1929
"I see nothing in the present situation that is either menacing or
warrants pessimism… I have every confidence that there will be a
revival of activity in the spring, and that during this coming year the
country will make steady progress."
– Andrew W. Mellon, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury December 31, 1929
"I am convinced that through these measures we have reestablished confidence."
– Herbert Hoover, December 1929
"[1930 will be] a splendid employment year."
– U.S. Dept. of Labor, New Year’s Forecast, December 1929
"For the immediate future, at least, the outlook (stocks) is bright."
– Irving Fisher, Ph.D. in Economics, in early 1930
"…there are indications that the severest phase of the recession is over…"
– Harvard Economic Society (HES) Jan 18, 1930
"There is nothing in the situation to be disturbed about."
– Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, Feb 1930