30 Months Later: I Stood In The Great Recession And Talked About The Great Depression

Two and one-half years ago, the Indiana Historical Society invited me to be the keynote speaker at a “corporate summit.” Then, in early 2009, we were in the depths of what people had begun to call the Great Recession. I looked back at the presentation and recalled I made a couple of points that stand up well in August 2011.

First, I said the death of capitalism was greatly exaggerated. That is still true. I predict that you’ll begin hearing quite a bit about the inherent flaws of capitalism, the fundamental reasons why we’re witnessing its collapse. False, We’re not witnesses to anything of the kind. What we are seeing is this: capitalism is adjusting, and may look (and need to look) differently that we had grown accustomed to seeing. By that I’m referring to a dangerously low savings rate combined with a dangerously high consumption rate. These things need to readjust–personally, I believe that’s more of a moral, spiritual, values, and psychological adjustment than it is simply an economic or financial one.

Second, I indicated that when you looked at two other major economic declines in recent American history (the 1890s and the 1930s) you saw that the dynamic actually happened in waves, phases, or stages. We’re seeing the same thing in 2011. This is the second wave of what history showed would almost certainly be a multi-wave event.

Take heart. I believe these two points are solid. Grab on to them.