ALAN FRANKLIN writes: We have been forecasting the "Coming Greater Depression" on this website since mid 2006. It was obvious from the figures. Now here's a man who also sees what is happening. This is the news you won't get from major media.
America's Second Great Depression
by Martin D. Weiss, Ph. D.
In this first week after Thanksgiving, it's time to take a moment, look at the changes swirling all around us and think about the tasks we must achieve together in the weeks ahead.
After more than six decades of growth, America is sinking into its Second Great Depression of modern times. The place is every home, business, and community.
The time is now.
America's Second Great Depression is not a typical 20th century recession that happens to strike a bit harder or linger somewhat longer. Nor is it merely a fictional scenario conjured up by economists with a murky crystal ball.
America's Second Great Depression is the probable consequence of a great housing bust, a massive mortgage meltdown and the biggest financial crisis in history.
It promises to bring the worst wave of bankruptcies, job losses and wealth destruction any citizen under 90 has ever experienced.
It challenges the smartest minds in Washington, defies the deepest pockets on Wall Street and threatens to rip through our life with the force of a Cat-5 hurricane. And yet, among all those making the decisions that could forever change our future, no one has personal experience with a similar episode.
I don't either. I was born in 1946, just as we were leaving the final vestiges of America's First Great Depression behind. I've studied that historic period with books, charts and numbers, but that's not the same thing. I've lived in Brazil and Japan during tough times, but that, too, was different.
What brings me closer to a visceral understanding of this crisis is the half century I shared with my father, J. Irving Weiss, one of the few economists who not only advised investors during the First Great Depression, but actually predicted it.
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Dad was so proud of that unusual feat, he began telling me stories about it when I was just five years old. Vicariously, I lived through the Roaring Twenties, the Crash of '29, the massive bank failures of the 1930s, and the many years of human suffering that ensued. Through Dad's teachings, I felt as though I was there with him when investors lost fortunes, when we hit rock bottom in 1933, when we eventually recovered and brand new fortunes were made. Dad was not only a loving father, but also my mentor, partner and best friend.
I wish he could be here today to write to you directly and help you get through these tough times personally. But as soon as I was old enough, I helped him write his investment reports; and in 1971, soon after I founded Weiss Research, he helped me write mine. Although he's gone, I can feel his vibrant energy and calming spirit beside me; and from time to time, I will let him speak to you posthumously here in Money and Markets.
Think of this message you get from me each Monday as co-authored by the two of us. He will tell you about his experiences and analysis during America's First Great Depression; I will tell you what it means for America's Second Great Depression and what you can do about it. A lot has changed since then. What hasn't changed is my family's passionate desire to help you through it.
This entire effort is the culmination of eighty-four years of research, beginning when Dad first went to Wall Street in 1924 to learn everything he could about money.
Five years later, when the great crash struck, he did not own any stocks. His parents were recent immigrants from Eastern Europe with barely enough to keep food on the table. He had to save everything he earned, bring it home and give it to his mother. He knew how real estate had collapsed in Florida, and he saw how America's farms were in disarray. He didn't want to gamble his hard-earned savings on another bubble.
After the crash, the stock market rallied for almost six months, and nearly everyone on Wall Street thought the crisis was over. But Dad persuaded his clients and friends to sell everything, get the heck out of the market, and pile up as much cash as they could. He was so convinced the market would fall again, he even borrowed $500 from his mother to sell short — to take a crack at profiting from the market's decline.
Sure enough, the Crash of '29 was just the opening act of the great bear market. All told, from its peak in 1929, the Dow Jones Industrials Average fell 89%. Compared to the Dow's peak in 2007, that would be tantamount to a plunge of more than 12,600 points — to a low of approximately 1500. Dad explains it this way:
"In the 1930s, at each step down the slippery slope of the market's decline, Washington would periodically announce some new initiative to turn things around. President Hoover would give a new pep talk promising 'prosperity around the corner.' And often, the Dow staged dramatic rallies — up 30% on the first round, 48% on the second, 23% on the third, and more. Each time, I sought to use the rallies as selling opportunities. I persuaded more of my clients to get rid of their stocks and pile up cash. I even told them to take their money out of shaky banks.
"On the surface, it might have appeared that just sitting out the crisis got you nowhere. Actually, though, it was a great strategy for building wealth. Prices were falling — on homes, on automobiles, on almost everything. So the more prices fell, the more your money was worth. Just by saving money, stashing the cash, keeping your job and going about your daily life, you were building wealth. You didn't have to know about investing. All you needed to figure out was how to protect yourself from the bad times. Then, when we hit rock bottom — that was the time to start buying real estate, stocks or bonds.
"The end of the entire decline came with two events: The inauguration of our new president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the national banking holiday he declared on his third day in office. But after three years of panics and crashes, most people greeted those events with dread. They thought it would be the beginning of another, even steeper slide. Some people even said it was the final chapter of capitalism itself. As it turned out, that was precisely the right time to pick up some of the greatest bargains of the century and make a lot of money."
The rest of this article can be found on Dr Weiss's website.
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