If you were to open the front door to my house, you would be immediately greeted by a host of stuffed animals my daughter placed on the stairs and baby toys as far as the eye could see. Our living room is a minefield of pacifiers and Fisher-Price® products. But it’s still not as messy as the current financial markets and economy.
It’s hard to define the current state of the market and economy in a single word. You could call it a quandary, a quagmire, or just a complete and utter mess. It’s difficult to make heads or tails of it. There are flavors of the late 90s/early 2000s where the fundamentals, or financial strength, of companies didn’t matter (think meme stocks and crypto), mixed in with stubbornly high inflation, taking a page out of the 1970s and 1980s.
I went to college in Florida where it rains on and off about every five minutes. It doesn’t matter what the weather app shows, rain is almost a certainty. It can be perfectly sunny as you’re walking out of the grocery store, but as you hit the exact mid-point between your car and the exit, a torrential downpour commences and only ceases once you’ve loaded up all your groceries and shut your car door. I can confidently say as a former (and brief) Floridian, the state has some of the most obnoxious weather.
What’s funny about weather is that we all interpret it differently. My wife is a Tampa native, and what I described earlier as a “torrential downpour” she might consider as just a “sprinkle.” She’s probably right (as she typically is), but it’s fair to ask ourselves when it comes to things like the weather, the economy, or how we define a recession, does it really matter what we call it?
In the 1950s, Upjohn Company developed a drug called Minoxidil, which was designed to treat ulcers, among other conditions. It turns out the drug wasn’t very good treating ulcers, but it had an unexpected side effect: hair growth. By the late 1980s, the drug that was designed to treat ulcers and high blood pressure brought us Rogaine®. Certainly not what the Upjohn Company had in mind, but a benefit to society, nonetheless. Unfortunately, side effects (of the medical or economic variety) don’t always have a positive outcome.
Let’s consider the last twenty years of financial and economic history.
I am a sucker for a good statistic. Sports, economic, financial, it doesn’t matter. I love ‘em all. But my favorite statistics are those that get overshadowed and overlooked. For example: