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Economic Forecasts

Forecasting the Future in 1963

Much has changed over the last five decades. Here's what Willard Kiplinger and The Kiplinger Letter saw coming.

Knight Kiplinger below a picture of his grandfather W.M. Kiplinger.

Fifty years ago, W. M. Kiplinger—our first editor in chief—wrote a special Kiplinger Letter that looked much further out than the forecasts he and his staff made every week for their clients, as we still do today.

See Also: 10 Critical Forecasts for 2014

In the form of “A Letter to a Grandson” (all six of his grandchildren were boys, including me, then 15 years old), he forecast sweeping developments in demography, economics, politics and technology—trends that he deemed likely in our lives. His foresight proved to be uncanny.

There were many hits and a few misses. The last few decades did see the eventual arrival of fuel cells, microwave ovens, a moon landing, live global TV broadcasts, irradiated food, phones you can carry in your pocket, flat-screen TVs on the wall, and plastic plumbing.

Not yet here but coming soon: self-guiding cars. Probably not coming soon: passenger jets that can span the oceans and continents in 90 minutes. (The Concorde supersonic jetliner of the ‘80s was the last of its breed—at least for now, due to cost and environmental constraints.) Yes, “wonder drugs and vaccines,” but not yet a cure for all cancers and the common cold.

As editor in chief today, I want to share this special letter with you, for the here-and-now benefit of its analysis and advice. Perhaps you will wish to share it with your children and grandchildren, too, to show them how much has changed in the last 50 years.

Best wishes for the new year,

Knight Kiplinger