Authored by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Securities,
A Premonition From a Halcyon Era
In 1968, America was literally over the moon. Apollo 7 had just made the first manned lunar orbit and the nation would soon witness Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk. The United States was winning the war in Southeast Asia and the Great Society was on the verge of eliminating poverty. I remember my father taking me to the Buick dealership that summer in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, where he bought a 1969 Electra. As we drove home I asked him why we had bought the 1969 model when we had the 1968 one, which seemed equally good.
“That’s just what you do now,” my father said, “Every year you go and get a new car.” “Wouldn’t it be better,” I asked as a precocious nine year-old, “if we saved our money in case a depression happened?” I will never forget my father’s reply: “Son, the next depression will be completely different from the one that I knew as a boy. In that depression, virtually nobody had any money so if you had even a little, you could buy nearly anything. In the next depression, everyone will have plenty of money but it won’t buy much of anything.” Little did I realize, then, how prescient my father would prove to be.