OZY on Wallet Wisdom
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because these past initiatives worked to put more cash in people’s pockets.
In 1962 the first Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target stores opened their doors. It wasn’t obvious at the time, but as the American South crackled with the tension of decades of segregation and college campuses began to see the first bubblings of student activism, the heartland was ground zero for its own much quieter revolution: the retail revolution. The companies that brought to America “blue-light specials” and mass-market Missoni now face the biggest challenge to their existence in half a century, and some are predicting the end of an era for so-called “big box” retail.
It was a rebel airline with a cause: It made air travel widely affordable, and the impact of its radical business practices is still being felt today. Launched in early 1981, People Express grew swiftly from a fleet of six used Lufthansa jets operating out of an abandoned Newark Airport terminal into the fifth-largest U.S. carrier, before being crippled by massive debt. In the process, it became the U.S. industry’s first-ever fare warrior and made air travel affordable for tens of millions of Americans for whom boarding a plane, even for a short flight, was a luxury beyond imagination — a feat any future startup U.S. airline is likely to find insurmountable.
Investment fads usually run their course quickly and end badly. The Nifty Fifty captivated investors for the better part of a decade prior to its demise in 1973, but not before reviving the high-risk investing that had been out of vogue since the Crash of ‘29. The 50 stocks identified by Morgan Guaranty Trust represented some of the fastest-growing companies on the planet in the latter half of the 1960s. Their popularity among institutional and individual investors sparked a quantum shift from “value” investing to a “growth at any price” mentality that resurfaced with a vengeance in the tech-stock bubble a quarter-century later.