There’s nothing magic about entering a new decade, yet each tends to generate its own label:
the “Roaring ’20s,” the “Depression-Era ’30s,” the “Swinging ’60s.”
In hindsight, we may even refer to the decade just finished as the “Terrible 2000s” or the “Naught-Oughts”
because the stock market finished the decade exactly where it started.
Each decade seems to carry its own signature in social trends, as well as economic forces that impact those social trends.
In the past 10 years, we saw the twin stock market peaks of 2000 and 2008, two bear markets and then substantial rebounds.
It was a decade in which we learned to understand volatility.
But perhaps the past decade may best be remembered for an even more profound reason. Some call it “the last great decade
of prosperity.” One economist labeled the coming decade “the pooring of America,” projecting that for the
first time we will confront the possibility of declining lifestyles for future generations.
I beg to disagree with this pessimistic outlook. Trends and times may change, but they always create opportunities in a free-market
economy. It requires perspective to think beyond our current economic problems. That’s the key to being successful in
any economic conditions.
I’m reminded of an interview I did in 1981 with the late A.N. Pritzker, founder of the Hyatt and Pritzker family fortune.
The interview took place as we were in the midst of another deep recession with double-digit unemployment and interest rates,
and general gloom. Asked how the family fortune was created, Mr. Pritzker told me that he started in the 1930s purchasing
distressed properties. When I naively protested, “But that was in the middle of the Depression,” he responded
swiftly: “My dear, that’s when the opportunities arise!”
A look back at history teaches that when one door closes, another one always opens. Just think of what would have happened
if our grandparents had given up on the country during the Depression, had stopped dreaming the American dream and working
toward a better future for their children.
So it’s our job to start rebuilding the country we want instead of despairing about the problems that exist. That’s
the job of this generation, and it is a burden no greater than the ones carried on the shoulders of pioneers who settled the
West, or the laborers whose factory jobs brought us out of the Depression.
Yes, the pendulum always swings too far in time of crisis. But giving up—on government or on the economic possibilities—is
not the answer. As long as we have our capitalist spirit alive and motivating us as part of our inherent nature, then we can
work to create our own success and move our nation back to growth.
We will become exactly what we decide to be and have exactly what we want most. It’s up to us to decide that we want
prosperity based on economic growth that comes from a strong and balanced free-enterprise system. We’ve done it before,
and we’ll do it again. And that’s the Savage Truth.