Where is the economy and your business heading...up, down or sideways? Trying to figure this out has been the primary mission of The Kiplinger Letter since its launch on September 29,1923. For 90 years we have helped our readers in management look ahead — through the tangle of economic, political and technological trends — and figure out what’s coming next.
We don’t have a crystal ball, but we do have a staff of savvy journalists who pick the brains of the most knowledgeable experts we know. Here are some of our most notable forecasts over nine decades, which were often contrary to the prevailing sentiment.
The Great Depression Hits
Authorities who give direct consideration to the condition of
credit and who keep an indirect eye on the stock market continue to speak
freely in private conversations of the "dangerously high position of the
January 14, 1929
The Rest of the Story: The Kiplinger Letter warned its readers repeatedly in the late 1920s about excessive speculation in stocks. In September and October of 1929, the market crashed, sending the Dow down 48%. Stocks bottomed in 1932, almost 90% lower.
Roosevelt Drafts a New Deal
Drift toward government control over private business operations
will proceed more rapidly.
Experimental economic legislation will be forced by bloc and
sectional interests, modifying Roosevelt's party program in many ways.
Prohibition will be amended.
New farm relief experiments, approaching nearer to fundamentals,
will be launched.
New bank legislation will be passed extending branch banking,
and imposing stricter government control. Many more weak banks will be
December 24, 1932
The Rest of the Story: After Franklin D. Roosevelt's inauguration in March of 1933, the startling policy change described in The Letter — then being crafted in secret by Roosevelt's "Brain Trust" — came rushing out in the first 100 days of the New Deal.
A Postwar Economic Boom
Peacetime will bring several years of great business activity,
starting after the temporary letdown...don't know just how many years.
The industries now starved by war will rush to catch up.
House building and home furnishings & equipment will go strong
to take care of deferred marriages and the un-doubling-up of families.
New products, new processes, new industries will come out of war,
or out of the stimulation which war has given to technology.
Synthetic rubber is here to stay.
Synthetic "silk" will replace most of the former natural silk.
Thousands of new things are coming...not published during war.
When you put all the facts together...these facts and others...
you can see that this war is likely to lead to a better future world...
IF we work and think and fight to make it so.
December 26, 1942
The Rest of the Story: Bucking a common belief that the U.S. would fall back into depression when World War II spending ended, Kiplinger accurately predicted that — after a brief slump from demilitarization — the U.S. economy would boom, driven by pent-up demand for consumer goods. The expansion ended up lasting a decade, until a recession in 1957-1958.
The Rise of Automation
Automatic machinery is zooming...machines that run themselves...
operated by a few engineers and mechanics...replacing a lot of workers.
The trend is old, but the rapid growth is new...especially in the past year.
Progress in the future is assured...at the zooming rate of the present.
There's a new word for it..."automation." It means automatics...
automatic control of single machines or whole production lines of them.
It's a new phase of the industrial revolution...a rushing phase.
No telling how far it will go. We shall be writing you more about it.
September 25, 1954
The Rest of the Story: Kiplinger frequently wrote in the 1950s about the coming surge in automation — the rise of IBM, NCR, Honeywell and other computer companies, plus factory automation in steel, textiles, autos and other industries. It displaced less-skilled workers, but laid the foundation for high economic growth in the 1960s.