If he only knew.
Then again, as one of America's famous humorists and social commentators, I suspect he "knew" all too well that history rarely works out the way people think.
Take the late 1990s, for instance.
As capital markets liberalized and the Internet Age began in earnest it was a time of great hope.
Companies that had very little other than a ".com" after their name suddenly became worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Boo.com, Pets.com, and Kozmo.com are a few that come to mind.
But were any of them worthy of all the hype?
I was one of the few who didn't think so. Many people considered me a Luddite because of it.
I wasn't trying to be difficult. I just reasoned that when everybody "knew something" that the end was near.
How did I know?
Well I didn't...exactly. But, I had a good idea thanks to something my grandmother, Mimi, used to call the "country club" test.
After being widowed at a young age Mimi was a seasoned, successful global investor in her own right. She reasoned that when an investment or a trend began making the rounds over drinks, it was time to move on.
And if she heard something around the poker table, she'd actually bet in the other direction.
One day, I asked what her secret was.
In no uncertain terms she told me to look carefully at the world around me and, in particular, at magazine covers.
According to Mimi, they were the next best thing to a crystal ball. Because whatever is all over the covers is what's on top of the mind on the cocktail circuit -- not to mention fodder for the masses...who are usually wrong.
Frankly, I thought Mimi had consumed one too many martinis. She loved them. Then, as my own career progressed, I began putting two and two together.
It turns out it wasn't the gin talking. Mimi was right.
Magazine Covers and the Stock MarketI've never forgotten Mimi's advice and still study magazine covers intently to this day because they help me latch on to important market shifts and trends that others either miss or simply don't see coming.
I am not so much interested in the stories themselves as I am in reading into the implications of headline copy. Many times I find out that what's being said in the headline isn't as important as what's being left unsaid.
For example, do you remember this magazine cover touting the "death of equities" from Business Week's August 13, 1979 edition?