Into The 20s We Go

Sunset on one decade just before a new decade – December 2019 at West Meadow Beach, Long Island. The tranquil scene above would not last long before unforeseen shocks would come.

By Cecil Hoge

The 2020s began with a bang on January 3rd, 2020. At least, I am assuming it was a bang that accompanied the explosion that killed Qasem Suleimani, the Iranian general that Donald Trump ordered to be targeted by a drone. The stock market, which started 2020 making love to itself in the risk on closet, promptly heard the bang and ran into the risk off closet where it sat cringing with fear, shedding points by bushel.

Other things were going on in the first month of the new decade. The President of the United States had been impeached and his trial began. A strange new flu was making its way around China and showing up in other spots around the globe. There was a meeting in Davos, Switzerland where the rich and famous gathered to argue about the state of the world economy, global warming, rising stock markets, collapsing interest rates and yields. The U.S. President, the same guy who was about to go on trial for impeachment, was there touting “the good numbers” that the U.S. was enjoying and badmouthing all those who thought global warming was real. Greta Thunberg, a 17 year old teenager, was on hand to chastise the President and all others who thought global warming was a hoax. And so the new decade started.

I wonder if the 2020s will have some similarities to the 1920s?

I did a little research to check what was happening at the very beginning of the 1920s. It seems that the 1920s did not begin with a bang. No, it began with good intentions and the agonized cries of many an alcoholic. On January 16th, 1920, the 18th Amendment took effect and that meant from that moment on booze was illegal. Now this did not come as a total surprise because 25 States already had laws in effect banning the consumption or sale of alcohol. As you probably know, the 18th Amendment and all the other laws banning alcohol did not have much effect. America decided to celebrate and drink more alcohol than ever. So much for good intentions.

The Roaring 1920s had their own issues

Not much was happening in 1920. World War I had ended in November 1918 and the world was once again exploring the possibilities of peace on earth. Babe Ruth was sold by the Red Sox to the New York Yankees. Apparently, Communists were becoming a concern in this country and many were arrested that year. Fanny Brice, an entertainer of that time, was having some problems with her husband who was trying to steal 5 million dollars in securities and passing bad checks. Poncho Villa surrendered to Mexican authorities down Mexico way. A new strain of the flu was starting to hit hard again with over 5,000 cases in New York City. This was a new version of a flu that had killed over 20,000,000 people worldwide in 1918 & 1919.

In 1920, it was get it while you can!

Later that year, women won the right to vote in this country. In September 1920 there an explosion in Wall Street Financial district. 30 people were killed and over 300 were injured. William J. Flynn of the FBI believed the bombing was the work of an Italian terrorist group.

Today, in 2020, we do not worry much about Italian terrorist groups. Our worries are more centered in the Middle East, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Africa where there seem to be more terrorist groups than we can name or number. And as fast as one disappears, two appear. The myth of Hydra is haunting us to this day.

I would suppose both periods were confused ages and I wonder if there was any age on this earth that was not confused.

I was born September 22, 1942. The way I figure it, I was conceived shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. To this day, I think my time in the womb was imbued with a sense of anxiety that came with parents experiencing the advent of World War II. That feeling stayed with me through the 1940s and the early 1950s when I went to various schools that regularly drilled you to get down on your knees, put your head under your desk and in the words of a fellow classmate, “kiss your ass goodbye”.

So, if you find this blog story a little paranoid, my time in the womb is the reason.

The war sensibility that I grew up with and the understanding that an atomic or nuclear attack was always possible continued with me through the 60s, the 70s and most of the 80s. It was only after the fall of the Berlin Wall that I had some sense that the world had come to some understanding that mutual annihilation was not a good idea and maybe it was better to live in a world where there was not the threat of the end of the world. That did not mean, of course, that the threat of world annihilation had been removed. It only meant that the threat had faded in my mind.

With the bang that began 2020, I once again had this feeling of uneasiness, of doubt, of fear, that the world was still an unstable place, that war or calamity was always a possibility.

The day after the killing of Suleimani, Iran vowed to take revenge. A couple of days later 22 missiles rained down on two Iraqi air bases where U.S. soldiers were stationed. Luckily, no U.S. soldiers were killed or reported injured. Later in the month it was reported that 50 soldiers experienced brain injuries and that one of the air bases had suffered significant damage. Later still, it was reported that 109 soldiers had suffered brain injuries. Strange how numbers sometime change.

A few hours after the missiles from Iran went flying into the two American air bases, it was reported that a Ukrainian airliner, a Boeing 737, crashed and killed all 176 people on board.

The first reaction of the Iranian people was outrage at the killing of their general by the U.S. and for a short period of time it seemed that the Iranian people were united in outrage against the United States and President Trump. But that did not last.

At first the Iranian government said the airliner crash was the result of mechanical difficulties. That was their explanation for a few days. When a video emerged showing one or two missiles being sent into the airliner and the Canadian and Ukrainian governments announced that they had proof that the plane had indeed been shot down by the Iranian military, the Iranian Government fessed up and said that it had indeed shot down the plane by accident. It seemed that a few members of the Iranian military had gotten nervous and shot down the plane because they thought it might be an incoming American cruise missile delivering retribution and mayhem.

But it turned out only to be a jet airliner taking off from their own airport in Tehran. Such is the fog of war.

The fact that the Iranian Government finally admitted this mistake and a full blown war between Iran and the U.S. had not occurred, promptly sent the stock market scurrying back into the risk on closet and almost immediately stocks went on to new higher highs. In the meantime, the Iranian people had a funeral for Suleimani the General and in the excitement over 70 citizens were killed in a stampede.

The excitement did not end there. As soon as the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, admitted to the mistake of Iran’s military guard, the people of Iran got equally excited and disturbed and started protesting the fact that the Ayatollah had not been completely honest. It seems Iran is subject to changing whims…one day you are up, one day you are down.

In the meantime, President Trump said he had a perfect right to kill Suleimani because Suleimani was “a bad guy”, because Suleimani was planning to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, because Suleimani was planning to blow up 4 U.S. Embassies, because Suleimani had killed thousands of Americans and because Suleimani had said “some bad things about our country”. And while all of the above was no doubt true in some sense, there were those in the world, both friend and foe, who thought that the killing of Suleimani was a barbaric act and we should not have done it.

After all, it was pointed out that Suleimani was a general in the Iranian Army visiting a foreign country, Iraq. Civilized countries did not send drones into foreign countries to blow away high officials just because they did not agree with them or because they were “bad dudes” or even because the person being targeted had killed thousands of Americans. No matter, it seemed that our President did not agree with this sentiment and it also seemed that he had eliminated a guy who most countries would not miss.

That set up a big discussion as to whether the killing of Suleimani was wise or not. Those who thought it was good idea pointed to the fact that a really bad guy was gone from the world and this would set back Iranian terrorist activities. Those who did not agree said this was a dangerous and stupid precedent that might give other countries the idea that they could assassinate generals, secretaries of states, politicians, presidents and other high officials of other countries. Others argued this killing might lead to the very opposite result that the Trump Administration intended: namely, we might get kicked out of Iraq. That might leave Iran free to strengthen its position in the Middle East and become the most powerful country in that part of the world.

And so the argument raged on. It was not helped when the Iraqi Parliament (or at least a part of it) voted days after the Suleimani killing to kick American troops and consultants out of Iraq. The United States promptly said that our troops were not going anywhere and if Iraq did kick our troops out we would not allow them to finance their oil shipments.

So, good intentions abounded in the beginning of 2020 and some unintended consequences occurred on both sides and there was much to dispute about what was right and what was not.

Chinese New Year was the year of the rat – in China the rat is supposed to be a quick and crafty thinker always ready to take advantage of a situation. By the end of the month, the rat in 2020 seemed more like the rat we know in the West.

Other things were going on that gave this new decade a zesty start. Chinese New Year started in the third week of January. Just about that time, the first infections of the Coronavirus, the name of the strange flu that was going around China, were being reported. The timing was not good since Chinese New Year was also the time the greatest annual migration of people on planet earth. With 300 million people moving about a country the size of China, it is hard to stop a virus.

Other events were on the calendar. The actual impeachment trial of The President of the United States began in the third week of January about whether to remove the President from office. On the last day of the month, it was announced that the Senate voted down the option to have witnesses at the trial. The Democrats called foul while Republicans generally celebrated.

One senator, Lamar Alexander, voted against having witnesses explaining, “It would pour gasoline on the cultural fires burning out there.”

It seemed the senator thought if witnesses were called up the President would be impeached and then a civil war might begin.

On January 27th, it was revealed that 81 people had died and more than 2700 people were infected in China from the Coronavirus. On that day the Dow Jones went down 553 points. The next day it was revealed the same virus had killed 106 people and infected over 4500 people. In other words, in one day of reporting, deaths had increased 31% and infections had increased over 60%. The stock market took news in stride and went up over 250 points. Apparently, it believed events in far away China had no bearing on the American economy.

On January 29th, it was revealed that the Coronavirus had killed over 131 people and infected just under 6,000 people. That day the stock market took the news in stride, but back-pedaled at the end of the day to be largely flat, with the Dow up and S&P slightly down.

On January 30th it was announced that 170 people had died and 7700 people were infected in China. During that day a number of reports mentioned some unsettling conditions. Starbucks closed over 2,000 stores in China because of the Coronavirus and the Chinese New Year would be extended until February 10th. That meant that 2/3rds of all Chinese factories would stay closed until February 10th. The stock market was not concerned and went up that day.

It seemed that investors, market gurus, pundits, financial reporters, stock manipulators, computer bots, scalawags, carpet baggers, quants and software programmers all had some inside info that I did not.

On January 31st, the market decided it was concerned. Sentiment was shifting…maybe this virus thing might have some effect on business. By the end of the day, the Dow Jones Average was down 603 points and all U.S. markets were down for the year 2020. To say the least, the month of January was a topsy, turvy market with investers running this way and then that way, with no clear knowledge of whether to celebrate or run off a cliff.

Later the same day, the WHO (The World Health Organization) announced a global health emergency because of the Coronavirus. At the same time, Lawrence Kudlow, Director of the United States National Economical Council, said he thought there would be no impact on the American economy from the Coronavirus in China.

As soon as it became apparent that the Coronavirus was spreading rapidly, China decided to quarantine Hubei Province and some other cities containing about 60,000,000 people. That meant that no trains, planes or buses or cars could go out or into the quarantined areas.

In the meantime, I wondered whether not getting any shipments of goods from China might have an impact on the U.S. economy and the Western World. I had a personal stake in this situation since we had 8,200 inflatable boats on order, all to be shipped after Chinese New Year. To get a better handle on this situation, I e-mailed my 6 different suppliers. 5 had factories located in China. 1 was located in Korea and Vietnam.

The answers that came back were rather chilling.

One supplier could not make any prediction about when they might start producing products. They did say they expected to start February 10th and said “we stay inside all day and do not even go downstairs.”

That is probably very good for food delivery companies who bring food to individual apartments, but not so great for restaurants and bars who like patrons to come to them. And not so great for the people who have to spend day after day in their apartment.

Another supplier said the situation is “serious and we hear many rumors about it being far worse than reported.”

Another supplier told us they are not allowed to go out of their apartment building. Apparently, they have 6 entry and exit points, 5 of which are chained shut. At the 6th, a military guard is stationed. One person in their household can go out every 2 days to shop. To go to work, they need a permit and if they cannot show that they just have to stay in their apartment. This system of mandatory quarantine of people in apartment complexes is apparently being implemented throughout China.

I am not sure how that system would work out in the United States. I am guessing some folks here would not go along with such an idea.

Another supplier said that they did indeed expect to open on February 10th, but they were going to have to provide face masks and hand sanitizers for all employees. In addition, they would have to take the temperature of every employee every day. If any employee had too high a temperature or exhibited symptoms of the Coronavirus, the infected person would have to go off and be quarantined. And again, this system is being widely adopted throughout China.

None of my suppliers could even begin to say when they might be able to ship goods. The supplier that makes our boats in South Korea and Vietnam did not have a problem about opening those two factories up, but they were missing some parts and material from China and so they also could not say when they might start making boats.

At the end of January it was revealed that Coronavirus was doubling every 6.4 days.

You might think the first month of the new decade was primarily focused on the Iran situation and the Coronavirus, but you would be wrong. Other things were going on in the world. At the end of January, the U.S. and Israel announced “The Deal of the Century”. The deal that was being referred to was between Israel and Palestine, but strangely it was concluded just by Israel and the United States. The two countries had taken a different approach to having a final peace agreement in the Middle East with Israel and Palestine. Rather than consult the other main party to the deal, Palestine, the United States and Israel simply presented their deal to Palestine on the presumption or hope that Palestine would sign on to it. It took about 12 nano-seconds for Palestine to reject the deal. So much for “The Deal of the Century”.

This deal apparently will have some interesting side effects, even if Palestine never accepts it. For one thing, the United States agreed with Israel in this “Deal of the Century” for Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. That was a sticky point for Palestine since they thought it was their capital. It was also widely reported that Israel would use this “deal” to annex land on the West Bank that had previously belonged to Palestine.

Iran predicted that this deal would lead to calamity for the U.S., but of course, Iran generally predicts that any U.S. action will lead to calamity. It must be said, however, if you want to get a deal between two parties, they have to meet and agree to mutually acceptable terms. The Trump Administration apparently believes that one party can simply tell the other party what the deal is. An interesting approach for sure.

If one looks back a few hundred years in history at a real “Deal of the Century”, there are certain elements that need to be in place. I am speaking of when the Dutch purchased the island of Manhattan for some trinkets supposedly worth $24. That deal apparently had the agreement of the Indians. Maybe, President Trump could clinch this deal if he just threw in Greenland, a piece of property he apparently is interested in acquiring anyway. Then the Palestinians would have plenty of space to stretch out once they got used to their large and chilly domain.

As February got under way, the Democrats and Republicans laid out their final arguments on whether President Trump should be impeached. It was widely assumed that the outcome would be acquittal. President Trump wanted this to be wrapped up before his State of the Union speech, but the Democrats, knowing they had lost the war, fought one more fruitless battle and delayed the decision until after the State of the Union speech.

The first day that stock markets were open in February, investors again charged ahead and bought stocks. Apparently, the markets had some information that I was not privy to. Although the infection rate of the Coronavirus as of February 3rd rose to 20,600 infections and over 435 deaths, that did not bother the ever wise stock markets. They used the first day the market was open in February to erase all the losses of the previous Friday. Happy days were here again.

That week the first primary of the new political season took place for Democrats and, like the Democratic efforts to impeach President Trump, the Democratic efforts to count votes in Iowa failed. There were only about 30,000 caucus votes to count in Iowa, but somehow that eluded the abilities of the Democrats. The night of the election they were unable to call a winner. Apparently, a new software program that was supposed to deliver speeded up results, delivered contradictory results. Oops.

The next day the Democratic Party was able to release some results (62% of the counts) which showed Pete Buttigieg as leading with Bernie Sanders running a close second. After that came Elizabeth Warren and after that Joseph Biden. Because only 62% of the votes had been counted and checked, it was still to early to declare a winner. One thing seemed clear. Joseph Biden, who had been the Democratic favorite candidate, now seemed to be running out of gas.

Later on the evening of the same day, President Trump gave his State of the Union speech. It was very well-received by Republicans and very harshly received by Democrats. Nancy Pelosi, perhaps frustrated by the fact that she was having difficulties impeaching the President, tore up a copy of the President’s speech while the President was still giving the speech. It certainly was a case of poor sportsmanship by a sore loser.

In the President’s speech, he referred to “The Great American Comeback”.

“Our country is thriving again”, he said. And certainly, no one could disagree that the economy had not gotten better while Donald Trump was President. Some might argue that it came at the expense of the environment and that it is easy for corporations to have extra profits if they spend less on pollution controls that are no longer required.

Some other points were subject to some skepticism: “Since my election, United States stock markets have soared 70%”. Exactly where that number came from was not immediately understood. The Dow Jones, for example, did rise about 40% from the end of 2017 to the present. In any case, it was clear that the stock market had indeed risen a great deal since Trump became President. Other statements were also not completely agreed to:

“Jobs are booming, incomes are soaring, poverty is plummeting” Certainly, it was true the employment was up. As to whether incomes were soaring and poverty was plummeting, many would argue that was not the case.

“The years of economic decay are over,” the President said. Well, maybe, others said.

Whatever you might think of the President’s speech, one thing was true. It marked a new high point in his Presidency and the speech was a loudly applauded by all those supporting the President.

And the winner is The Winner!

The day after President Trump‘s speech, he was acquitted as widely predicted by everyone but the Democratic Party. The President had a news conference to declare what a scam and a hoax the impeachment process had been. At the same time, the New York Times published more results from the Iowa Caucus and reported that there appeared to be numerous inconsistencies in the votes. From the latest figures it appeared that Bernie Sanders was nudging closer to Pete Buttigieg. In any case, it was still too early to declare any candidate a winner.

By February 6th the market had roared ahead and reached all time highs. Investors were definitely in a risk on mode. At the same time, the number of infected and dead from the Coronavirus kept advancing. By mid week, China admitted to 28,000+ infections and over 460 people dead. That did not seem to bother the markets which kept cruising along. Apparently, market pundits thought that a effective vaccine or mix of vaccines would be developed that would shortly eradicate the problem and/or the Chinese Government would cut interest rates and stimulate the economy enough to make the infected and dead a mere bump in the road. And the best minds of the generation plowed into the market.

In that same week of February, I kept getting updates from my various suppliers in Korea, Vietnam and China. My Korean supplier was worried – apparently only 60% of the workers came back to their Weihai plant. Even though they were based in Korea, they had two factories in China – one in Weihai and one in Guangzhou. They wrote me saying it would still take weeks for factories to start up and get up to full production. And because some parts and materials were made in China, all production in Korea and Vietnam would also be held up until the needed parts and material arrived.

According to their e-mail, all Chinese factories were crowded with goods ready for shipment and ports were fully clogged and not accepting goods to go out or come in. At the same time airlines, trucking companies and all forms of transport were simply not moving. Factories that make parts and materials for other factories that make the final goods, were closed and not in a position to manufacture the needed parts and materials. Without parts and material, other factories were unable to start producing more goods. So, in truth, most of China was at a standstill.

By February 7th, there were reports in the Wall Street Journal and on Bloomberg essentially saying the same thing. Investors took the opportunity to sell stocks and markets dropped.

A cynical old man such as myself might think that there were a bunch guys in a room, along with algorithms and stock manipulators and software programmers and carpet baggers and scalawags working to drive the market UP for the first few days of each week and then shorting-selling the market DOWN on the last day or two of the week. Because that had been the pattern of the stock market for the last several weeks. Was it a plot, was it an accident? Who knew?

That evening it was announced that over 34,000 people were infected with Coronavirus and 720 people had died. In other words, in just 7 days it, infections had more than tripled and deaths had more than doubled.

February 8th – from 11,000+ infected cases to 34,000+ cases in just 7 days.

The next day a spokesman for the WHO (the World Health Organization) said it appeared the number of daily infection cases had stabilized in the last 3 days. That seemed wrong to me, but who could argue with a WHO official. And certainly the stock market went along with the WHO official.

In the meantime, one of my Chinese contacts sent me a picture of her on her first day back to work. It was kind on eerie. See below.

The first day back in the office – it looks as if the heat was not working yet. All employees are required to wear masks, use hand sanitizer and have their temperature taken daily.

As we moved into the second week of February, the count of Coronavirus cases continued to rise, but not at the same blistering pace – it appeared that the WHO official was correct. That is, assuming the reported number cases were correct. The stock market kept up the usual routine of going up the first few days the week. By mid week, a new name was given to the Coronavirus. From February 11th on it would be called “Covid-19”. This snazzy new name was thought not to imply any racial slurs, which apparently, the name Coronavirus did. I tried to research just where the racial slurs might be coming from Coronavirus, but was somewhat bewildered.

According to Google, corona refers to a rarified gaseous envelope around the sun and virus refers to virus. Beyond that there was the fact the name Corona was used by a popular Mexican beer, but since the virus began in China, I think we can assume the racial slurs that might come from the name were not against Mexicans. I do believe many Chinese people felt, because the virus first started in China, that they were being unfairly suspected as having spread the virus. But, of course, it is hard to deny the fact that this new kind of flu did start in China.

Regarding the name Coronavirus, I wondered if the real reason they changed the name to Covid 19 was because maybe Coronavirus spread as the name corona suggested: a gaseous envelope around each infected person.

Speaking of conspiracy theories, Tom Cotton, a U.S. Senator and a military veteran, suggested that the Coronavirus might have started in a special research lab near Wuhan.

”We don’t know where it originated, and we have to get to the bottom of that. We know that just a few miles away from that food market is China’s only biosafety level 4 super laboratory that researches human infectious diseases.”

I am not sure what Tom Cotton’s theory is? Did the virus get out of this “research lab” by accident? Or did the Chinese military release it in Wuhan to infect millions of Chinese in the hope of eventually infecting some Americans?

On February 12th, stock markets in the U.S. took the opportunity to cruise to new all time highs. Later that day, a surprise announcement came from China. Due to a new system of counting the infected and the dead, it was announced that there were 14,800 new infections and 242 new deaths. One might guess that infection count was just catching up to the reality of the Chinese under counting the number of previously infected people. So maybe it was just a case of catch-up. That did not explain the reason that there were suddenly 242 deaths whereas the previous high had been 97 deaths.

By week’s end, “Covid-19” reached 67,000+ infected and 1,500+ dead. So once again, it appeared that infections and deaths were still doubling each week. The stock market took it in stride, reasoning that maybe this was a buying opportunity.

Around the world, other things were happening. I have a gentleman named Navneet Syal who works for us in New Delhi, India. He tells me that in India they have serious problem regarding the high prices and availability of onions, potatoes and tomatoes. Apparently, the lady who is the Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, was asked about the high price of onions. She said that it was not a concern because she and her family do not use onions. So the simple solution to the high price and lack of availability of onions in India was to stop eating them. Problem solved.

When asked about the same problem affecting potatoes, she said, “Don’t worry, we are working on the problem of potatoes.” When asked immediately afterwords about the high price of tomatoes, she said, “I’ll get back to you on tomatoes.”

Apparently, it is also the age of cow chips

In another semi-related story in India, it seemed there was an Indian officer who had a simple solution to the problem of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. All any Indian person had to do was smear themselves with cow dung. The same gentleman mentioned that drinking cow urine was also helpful. Since the cow was sacred animal and cow dung was known to have many benefits, this simple prescription would keep everyone in India safe, if just a little smelly. I wonder if this same prescription might be applied to “Covid 19”?

The above story reminds me of my blog story “The Age of Buffalo Chips”.

And so it went India.

By the end of the second week of February, stock markets stabilized at all time highs. It seemed that the wisdom of the market was that Covid 19 was a little hiccup in a faraway place and that shortly there would be V recovery and the market would be ready to roar ahead to ever new highs.

The day before, a member of WHO, the World Health Organization, said it was possible that COVID 19 would become a true pandemic and eventually infect 60% of the world’s population. Most doctors in the U.S. said that was highly unlikely and there was little possibility that the new disease would cause any harm in the land of the free. Personally, I was wondering how much it would delay the shipment of the 8,200 boats we had ordered. From my discussions with my suppliers, it seemed that no one really knew.

Covid 19 was still increasing in infections and deaths each week, but there was much dispute about whether the disease would die out soon or infect most of the world.

In the meantime, it was announced on February 15th that 67,170 people were infected with Covid 19 and 1527 people had died.

In a related story, several cruise ships seemed affected by the Covid 19 virus. One ship, a Carnival Cruise ship, The Diamond Princess, was quarantined in Yokohama with 3700 people on board. At first 3 cases of the virus were reported, then 10 and then 20. As the cases mounted, the ship sat docked in Yokohama Harbor. Within a week, more cases were announced. Soon, the number of cases were up 355.

At that point, the United States decided it might be a good idea to evacuate the Americans on board. A plan was set in motion. Infected victims (over 40 Americans were already diagnosed with Covid 19), would be kept in Japan in special hospitals while the uninfected Americans would be flown home to the U.S. to be put in quarantine for another 14 days there. That was the plan.

You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men. Occasionally, they go wrong. In this case, after the remaining Americans were picked up and on the way, they found that 14 of the Americans were infected. That came as news just as the Japanese announced 99 new Covid 19 cases on The Diamond Princess and now 455 people of the original 3700 were infected.

Apparently, this news came too late to stop or alter the planned evacuation of Americans. So, now several hundred uninfected and 14 infected were on the same flight. Apparently, the infected would be sitting in a special quarantine section of the plane. Let’s hope the gaseous envelope surrounding the infected does not float too far.

And so, those were some of things that happened in the first month and a half of the new decade.

It is difficult to recite some of the happenings of the first 50 days of a year and say that they may indicate what the rest of the year might be like. It is even more difficult to say that the first year of a decade may indicate what a decade will be like. And so, out of an abundance of caution, I will not predict what any of the above might mean for the 2020s.

In coming back to whether there might be some correlation between the 1920s and the 2020s, I think it is also impossible to suggest that a comparison of the two periods may have any similarities. Some say those who do not study the past are condemned to repeat it. Others say history does not repeat, but it may rhyme.

We shall see as our present President says.

In regard to possible similarities between the two periods, it might be useful to mention some later events in the 1920s:

In 1921, the Communist Party in China was founded.

In 1922, Benito Mussolini became the fascist leader of Italy. That same year King Tut’s tomb was found.

In 1923, King Tut’s tomb is opened, releasing, according to some, a curse on those who opened the tomb. In November of 1923, Hitler and Eric Ludendorff attempt a national revolution against the Weimar Republic in Germany, called the Beer Hall Putsch. Hitler and Ludendorff, a World War I general, started this revolution with 3,000 “Brown Shirts”. It did not go well. Hitler was thrown in jail and 14 brown shirts were killed.

That same year, other things happened: Warren Harding died of a heart attack and Calvin Coolidge became President. The Frigidaire (an electrical icebox) was introduced and refrigeration by ice went into a permanent tailspin. Pancho Villa was shot down and killed in Mexico.

In 1924, Gandhi fasted for peace and Calvin Coolidge was elected President. In December, Hitler was freed from jail after just 8 months.

Ku Klux Clan marching for America First in the 1920s. Almost 100 years later, President Donald Trump said in his inaugural speech, “From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.”

In 1925, Hitler reorganizes German National Socialist Workers Party and publishes “My Kampf”.
In August, 40,000 Ku Klux Clan members march on Washington in white robes.

In 1926, television was invented by a Scotsman, John L. Baird. In 1927, Lindbergh, a U.S. air mail pilot, flies from Roosevelt Field on Long Island across the Atlantic to Paris, France.


In 1929, the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began.

Of course, just because some things happened in the 1920s does not mean that anything that happened then might happen in the 2020s.

And so, into the 20s we go.

PostScript: I will update this story as time passes and more of the decade is in sight.

March 18, 2020 – The Coronavirus has soared in the few weeks since this blog was posted while stock markets of the world have gone in the opposite direction.

About Cecil Hoge

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