There Are Always Opportunities

Posted: February 19, 2009 in Powerful Ideas
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There are always opportunities, no matter how turbulent and chaotic the times may be.

During the Great Depression, many, if not most, of the emblematic industries of the post war era started and the key technologies we associate with post war prosperity were introduced or reached a critical mass. Here are just a few examples:

– Television
– Radio
– Talkies and colour motion pictures
– The modern recording industry
– Highways and suburban living
– Motels
– Civil aviation
– Household appliances
– Widespread electrification
– Telephones
– The modern advertising industry

I could go on of course. The same can be said of the 1970s and early 80s, that period of about a decade between 1973 and 1984, when stagflation and unemployment were rampant in the developed world. Here are some of the technologies and industries which took off during that period, and which were really only incipient prior to then:

– Cable and satellite TV
– Ghetto blasters, Walkman
– Computerization of consumer goods
– Personal computers
– Digitization of information
– Internet (originally ARPANet)
– Fax machines
– Handheld calculators
– VCRs
– The consumerization of credit, credit cards, various consumer oriented investment products such as Guaranteed Investment Certificates, whole-life insurance, stock and bond mutual funds, money market funds (all just in time for the biggest investment boom in history)

I think that in periods of economic disruption, strong firms and those with a strong incentive to innovate and take risks are those who profit the most. They see opportunities and jump on the bandwagon. There is a subsequent culling process, and luck surely plays a part in determining who will eventually win and lose, but there is nonetheless a new dynamic with potentially revolutionary consequences which sets in.

© Richard Martin 2009

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