This Baby Boomer graduated from college in 1970. Just in time for Saturday Night Fever and Grease, Avocado colored refrigerators and Harvest Gold dinnerware. Plus, the best friend a then bachelor ever had–the microwave oven!
Not to forget the Gasoline Lines and Hyper Inflation, Vietnam, Peace/Race Protests/Riots, a Major Recession, Stagflation and other wonderful (not) youthful memories–ugly political and economic time not wished on future generations. Adjusted for inflation a gallon of gasoline was $0.36 in 1970. By 1980 it was $1.19–greater than a 330% increase.
Seems like as Yoga Berra once said, “It’s like déjà vu all over again,” or ‘Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” Yet here we are again, or so it seems.
While I am not dusting off my leisure suit or growing what’s left of my hair, if as this boomer believes we are beginning to relive the 1970s economy, so what should we do? How should we respond to this new, yet old situation?
Most financial planners, corporate executives, academics, regulators and others were either not old enough or even alive when the economic and political shocks of the 1970s engulfed the globe. Without this experienced knowledge, many maybe ill equipped to deal with the current tsunami that is building. Perhaps a critical concern for everyone’s 401K retirement investments?
Hyper inflation is a cancer. It destroys economies and even societies, not to mention families and individuals in its wake. Real estate may be a winner if anyone can afford to purchase your house. However, equities struggle and cash is toast. From 1970 to 1980 the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced a scant 5 percent.
How does this compare with an over 300% increase in the gasoline we all needed for our automobiles? Short answer, it does not and individual households went backward during that period.
So What Do We Do Now?
Flight to quality. But what represents quality? Big Tech comes to mind but what is the underlying value proposition of a web based database? The outage of a major player blamed on a network issue and a number of (internal) cascading issues–the plague of many industrial incidents including Deepwater Horizon questions that proposition.
Are companies this vulnerable in our age of digitalization, or was this a sign of something else? As with many IT oriented decisions, “It depends.” The fact that one of the world’s largest, high profile web based companies suffered a significant outage, not as a result of a cyber attack but apparently its own technical incompetency is not reassuring in a Cloud based global economy.
The something else–we have discussed the need for High Reliability for complex sectors including the 16 sectors the US Homeland Security deems as Critical Infrastructure. Social media is not on that list, but manufacturing is. In our forthcoming (2022) book, “Smart Manufacturing: Integrating Transformational Technologies for Competitiveness and Sustainability,” we address risk mitigation strategies that can inoculate organizations from such catastrophic IT failures.
Heavy industries such as oil and gas are routinely criticized when a catastrophic incident occurs. These need no longer happen and we have put forth strategies routinely for more than a decade including in our 2014 book, Implementing a Culture of Safety: A Roadmap to Performance-Based Compliance.
As we move into the ‘Smart’ era, it will be incumbent on organizations to take steps to mitigate what happened to a web based chat room provider. The exogenous risk of critical infrastructure failing is significant, per the recent Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack and the systemic damage done to the US east coast.
The 1970s were marked by turmoil and follow on from the late 1960s. Richard Nixon took the country off the Gold Standard opening up significant economic and individual distress. We appear to be on the cusp of Yogi’s cautionary tale. It does not have to be, but appears likely. Is the US dollar no longer the world’s reserve currency in a era of bitcoin? If so, what are the ramifications?
Finally, as the son of parents from the Greatest Generation, I admit I never faced the challenges they endured. During my 20s, the period was an inconvenience, yet one I do not care to relive in my 70s. The graphic was taken from the Internet without citation. The author is unknown but we acknowledge his/her sense of humor. AND I can relate to it!
The Fed has indicated Inflation (Stagflation?) is here to stay. To this individual, this is a scary statement even though it posited as essentially ‘no big deal.’ We will see in a year if it was as big a deal as it was in the 1970s.
How will You Manage in this Environment?
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We presented, Should Cross Cultural Serious Games Be Included in Your Diversity Program: Best Practices and Lessons Learned at the Online Conference, New Diversity Summit 2020 the week of September 14, 2020.
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