From the book, "The Best Investment Advice I Ever Received", by Liz Claman. Here are a few insightful paragraphs to put things into perspective. It is a small excerpt from a book that you should definitely get your hands on.
....."In the 1960's, the Soviets threatened to "bury us" and the Cold War was in full swing. With the threat of nuclear missiles being planted just ninety miles from the Florida coast, school children practiced "duck and cover" drills in case of nuclear war. People in general just didn't feel very safe. By the mid-1960s, the ongoing prosperity convinced economists that the business cycle had been tamed by someone named John Maynard Keynes. Our president was convinced that a growing economy would provide enough revenue to greatly expand social programs at home, while fighting an unpopular war overseas.
The irrational exuberance of a long bull market came to an abrupt end with the United States held hostage by turmoil in the Middle East, and the Arab oil embargo in 1973. Economists proclaimed that the industrial West would forever be held hostage by Arab sheiks who controlled our future. A tripling of inflation followed, along with the President's resignation, a deep recession, and a wicked bear market the following year. President Ford felt that everyone should wear WIN buttons. "WIN" stood for "Whip Inflation Now." President Carter spoke of a "general malaise" that had gripped the country.
While the 1970's were difficult times for the financial markets, investors who continued to invest systematically, who focused on building porftolios that were balanced among domestic stocks, bonds, and foreign shares, and purchased high-quality common stocks that paid attractive dividends, generally held their own, and were well positioned for the great bull market that began in 1982.
The 1980s and 1990s were certainly not free of domestic problems, economic challenges, geopolitical conflict, or financial turbulence. For much of the 1980's, the United States spent enormous sums on defense in an effort to win the Cold War. The increase in spending, combined with large tax cuts, led to massive federal budget deficits. Economists said the federal government would crowd out the ability of corporations to borrow money and predicted sky-rocketing interest rates. They also worried about the lack of competitiveness of American industry, which led many to buy books describing the Japanese style of management and quality control methods. The record one-day stock market crash in October 1987 convinced economists that a deep decline in the US economy would soon follow.
In the early 1990s, with the Dow hovering around 3,000, investors worried about the first President Bush's reelection, conflict in Iraq, high oil prices, and a weak economy. We got out of Iraq, Bush lost the election, oil prices came down, and the economy prospered. The decade of the 1990's ended with more irrational exuberance, with investors believing that the internet had spawned a "new economy," where traditional investment rules did not apply.
Why is this time not different? The simple fact is that we are still faced with challenges and uncertainties, both in the outside world and here at home, that we still cannot see the future, and that many average, everyday people are still unsure of how to invest their money. Many of these individuals need a steady hand to help guide their financial affairs, someone who can provide context and perspective to today's challenging questions.
We do not know what the stock market will do this year or next, or what decisions will be made at the next meeting of the Federal Reserve. We cannot anticipate when or if the United States will be attacked again by terrorists or when our involvement in Iraq will be brought to an end.
However, we do not need to know these things to invest money properly. Investment decision should be based on investment principles, not predictions. We continue to believe that staying focused on the key investment principles of diversification, buying quality investments, and maintaining a long term perspective is the best way for investors to reach their long term goals. Investors must understand the importance of being patient, and to be realistically optimistic regarding the long term future of our country and the stock market. They should also know that the four most dangerous words in the world of investing are "This time is different.""
Pages 176-180, Essay 2006 Alan Skrainka