Tuesday, September 29, 2015

When Wall Street Was Sitting Pretty

These days Wall Street creates fear and anxiety, as illustrated in The New Yorker cover mentioned here.

Fifty Septembers ago the magazine offered a much prettier picture. Wall Street in the vicinity of The New York Stock Exchange was a symphony of color, superimposed on financial headlines.

At the time the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flirting with 1,000, a lofty height unimaginable back in the Depression. Members of the Greatest Generation who started investing after WWII were doing very well indeed.

The New York Stock Exchange was still a big deal in 1965. To build new business for its member firms the Exchange ran a series of ads. Here's one.

The ad's advice is prudent. Investors should buy stocks only with money they won't need in the foreseeable future, define their goals, study the companies that interest them. And, of course, consult a registered representative at a member firm. 

Today we know The New Yorker cover painted too rosy a picture. The mid-1960's marked the crest of the great postwar investment boom. The Dow wouldn't flirt with 1,000 again until the '80s.

If that 1965 New Yorker cover marked the end of an investment era, might this year's cat-and-mouse cover also herald a turning point? Since the Dot.Com bust of 1999, stock prices have soared, plunged, soared and, lately, plunged again. Plenty of sound and fury, more than enough fear and anxiety, but little or no net progress.

Back in 1999, Warren Buffett forecast that investors might have to wait 17 years for the beginning of another great bull market. That is, until 2016. So cheer up! Maybe we have only one more year of fear and anxiety to go.


Jim Gust said...

Under your theory of Saros cycles, the next bull market begins in 2018.

JLM said...

That's the theory, give or take a year or two. Who knows what wonders President Trump will work?