retrospective

The Long View

© Can Stock Photo / iofoto

The unemployment rate dropped to 3.5%, a fifty-year low, according to the Labor Department’s report for September. Like clockwork, some observers were quick to find the clouds around this silver lining.

That got us to thinking about life fifty years ago compared to today. Looking at the facts, it is hard to think of it as anything but unimaginable progress. In 1970, more than three quarters of homes lacked air conditioning. Televisions were only in 61% of them. 38% had washing machines. One in twenty lacked indoor
plumbing. There was about one land line telephone for every two people.

More startling are the things that nobody had in 1970, because they had not yet been invented. Mobile phones, digital cameras, post-it notes, email, video games, inkjet printers, MRI scanners, fiber optics, personal computers, GPS, and the internet, to name a few of them.

Median household income, adjusted for inflation, grew 37% over that half century. The rich got richer, but the average household made a lot of progress, too.

However, life isn’t all puppy dogs and rainbows, as an older acquaintance of mine likes to say. The economy grew and shrank in its cycle of expansions and recessions. The stock market, measured by its major averages, also went up and down year to year, sometimes sharply.

In between the record low unemployment rates at the beginning and end of the fifty years, we had three episodes of unemployment in excess of 10%.

We have noticed that when times are bad, some have difficulty imaging a recovery. And when times are good, some can scarcely think about the possibility of poor times returning. We humans like to believe that present trends and conditions will persist, good or bad.

The bad news is, the economy and the markets will continue to go up and down. The good news is, over the long term we have made amazing progress on almost every front. The past is no guarantee of the future, of course. In our opinion, there are many reasons to believe our progress will continue.

Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.


Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

The economic forecasts set forth in this material may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

Even Better Than Advice to My Younger Self

© Can Stock Photo / Bialasiewicz

There is a recurring thing in social media about what people wish they had known when they were younger. We’ve never been too interested in participating, since there is little to be gained by wishing for a different past. (I did once post on this subject, but it was an attempt at humor: “Advice to my younger self—don’t go for the chili dog pizza at the truck stop.”)

Our friend, the great thinker Burt White, got us thinking about this. We ended up with a hotter notion: advice from our future self. Imagine that the “you” from a year or a decade from now could come back and talk to you today—what would they wish you knew? “Advice from my future self” gives us the chance to make things better, beginning today!

At the risk of sounding as unstable as Vonnegut’s time-traveling character Billy Pilgrim, I imagined a conversation with my future self exactly to test this purpose. I already knew what my future self wanted to talk about—but I have been acting as if I didn’t know. The conversation may mark a turning point for me.

This is sort of personal, so I will not bore you with the details. But it isn’t difficult to sort out what kinds of advice our future selves might give:

  • Save something every payday
  • Acquire needed skills to change career trajectory
  • Gain closer connections with special people around us
  • Eat better
  • Do something active every day
  • … ???

We cannot know for sure what your future self would want you to know. It is almost too goofy to recommend to you. But if you ever get tempted to give advice to your younger self, we suggest that taking advice from your future self is likely to be far more useful.

Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Only Thirty Years Left

© Can Stock Photo / stokkete

In the merry month of May a long time ago, I graduated from college in a new cheap suit and embarked on my career in financial services. The first entry on the resume was life insurance agent, the Prudential Insurance Company of America.

The insurance companies managed their affairs with vast armies of file clerks and secretaries and bookkeepers, filling towers of offices in major cities. There were no computers on desktops, long distance telephone calls cost a lot of money, and typing a letter was surprisingly time consuming.

Just a few years before, the New York Stock Exchange got so far behind in its record-keeping that it was forced to stay closed on Wednesdays for months in order to catch up the paperwork. This was due to the record trading volume of…wait for it…TWELVE MILLION SHARES A DAY.

Needless to say, times have changed a lot since I got in business.

I don’t understand how it happened, but I am turning age 62 this month. My plan to work to age 92 may be keeping me young. Between our digital communications, expansion of the team, reworking our systems and processes, keeping up with economic and market developments, and talking to you, there isn’t really time to feel old.

Thinking about the arc of this career so far, I began in the 20th century with a company founded in the 19th century. And now we are at the vanguard of the 21st century.

It feels like this unfolding age was made for us. We understand how to communicate with you in the new media. Being straightforward is a big edge when everything you say and do is visible. Word of mouth is a speed-of-light phenomena nowadays.

At this milestone, with so much left to do, we are grateful to be alive and part of it. With the best clients in the world and support by LPL Financial, we are very fortunate.

Clients, thank you all, again, for everything. If we can do anything for you, email us or call. Here’s to a great thirty years ahead, for you and for us.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Leibman Financial Services and LPL Financial are not affiliated.