50 years ago I was a little boy watching a funeral on TV. The grown-ups were hushed. The images from Washington, DC played to a nationwide audience.
50 years ago there wasn’t a conspiracy industry. There wasn’t a Sixth Floor Museum, dedicated to an assassination. Three presidents prior to Kennedy had been shot, and the crime had been pursued. The Cold War was real, and ever-present. Duck-and-cover drills were part an ordinary elementary school day.
50 years ago the stock market was in the middle of an 85% rally that lasted four years, that would take it to a level—Dow 1000—that it would keep coming back to for another 15 years. The US and global economy were in the midst of an industrial boom, still satisfying pent-up consumer demand. President Kennedy’s assassination was a small setback amid those larger economic forces, and the market kept on growing.
50 years ago we re-learned that our nation is an idea, and a set of ideals, that is greater than one charismatic leader. While great people—and small ones—can change history, there are underlying dynamics that move at their own pace. Continued economic growth, and the uneven expansion of the market in response, is one of those ideas.
Life is fragile, and a lone lunatic can create great tragedy, but life also moves on. That’s another lesson from 50 years ago.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer