A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 13, 2008
“Wall Street indexes predicted nine out of the last five recessions” (Paul Samuelson)

Economist Paul Samuelson used his Newsweek column of September 19, 1966 to show that the market and that economists often get things wrong: “Wall Street indexes predicted nine out of the last five recessions.”

This joke has been frequently quoted in economics literature, with the numbers of predicted recessions and actual recessions varying.


Wikipedia: Paul Samuelson
Paul Anthony Samuelson (born May 15, 1915) is an American neoclassical economist known for his contributions to many fields of economics, beginning with his general statement of the comparative statics method in his 1947 book Foundations of Economic Analysis. Samuelson was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal in 1947 and was sole recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1970, the second year of the Prize.
(...)
For many years, Samuelson wrote a column for Newsweek. One article included Samuelson’s most quoted remark, and a favorite economics joke:

To prove that Wall Street is an early omen of movements still to come in GNP, commentators quote economic studies alleging that market downturns predicted four out of the last five recessions. That is an understatement. Wall Street indexes predicted nine out of the last five recessions! And its mistakes were beauties.
-- “Science and Stocks,” Newsweek, September 1966

Yale Book of Quotations
Edited by Fred R. Shapiro
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
2006
Pg. 662:
Paul A. Samuelson
U.S. economist, 1915-
Wall Street indexes predicted nine out of the last five recessions.
Newsweek, 19 Sept. 1966

10 May 1967, Northwest Arkansas Times (Fayetteville, AR), “Merry-Go-Round” by Drew Pearson, pg. 4, col. 7:
Sometimes these tools seem to be of limited help to forecasters. Economists who rely solely on leading indicators for forecasting run the greatest risk of being wrong. In 1962, for example, the indicators pointed to a recession, but it did not materialize. When the indicators’ performance was extrapolated backward to cover the years since World War II comments one waggish economist, “They’ve predicted nine of the last five recessions.”

22 July 1967, Northwest Arkansas Times, (Fayetteville, AR), pg. 4, col. 7:
Economic forecasters are the first to admit that theirs is a risky occupation. The so-called economic indicators, as one waggish economist has commented, have “predicted nine of the last five recessions.”

18 May 1970, Hayward (CA) Daily Review, pg. 17, col. 8:
As in each market slump of recent years, business experts recall the comment of Paul Samuelson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist, who said: “The stock market has predicted eight of the last trhee recessions.”

Google Books
23 August 1971, New York magazine, pg. 25:
“Sure, I know, as everyone says, that it’s predicted ten of the last three recessions. But those recessions were real disasters.”

Google Books
Money Matters;
Economics, Markets, Politics

By Alexander James Meigs
New York, NY: Harper & Row
1972
Pg. 139:
In spite of the jokes about how the stock market has predicted five out of the last four recessions, stock prices are strongly related in some way to business fluctuations and monetary policy.

Google Books
The Samuelson Sampler
By Paul Anthony Samuelson
Published by T. Horton
1973
Pg. 111:
To prove that Wall Street is an early omen of movements still to come in GNP, commentators quote economic studies alleging that market downturns predicted four out of the last five recessions. That is an understatement. Wall Street indexes predicted nine out of the last five recessions! And its mistakes were beauties.

24 April 1974, New Castle (PA) News, pg. 5, col. 2:
The stock market, as one wit put it, has predicted seven of the last two recessions. 

12 January 1975, Lowell (MA) Sun, “Contrary stock market rising” by Thomas E. Mullaney, pg. E4, cols. 3-4:
How reliable the stock market has been as an oracle of coming events is subject to dispute. But its history shows a fairly good record in forecasting turns in the economy, despite the old sow that it correctly predicted “eight of the last six recessions.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • (0) Comments • Saturday, December 13, 2008 • Permalink