ADVANTAGES

When President Calvin Coolidge delivered his 1928 State of the Union address, he noted that America had never "met with a more pleasing prospect than that which appears at the present time." Americans had a lot to be proud of back then: World War I was thoroughly behind them, radio had been invented, and automobiles were growing cheaper and more popular. Sure, the disparity between the rich and the poor had widened within the past decade, but Americans could now buy goods on installment plans — a relatively new concept — and families could afford more than ever before. Stocks were on a tear: between 1924 and 1929, the Dow Jones Industrial Average quadrupled. At that time, it was the longest bull market ever recorded; some thought it would last forever. In the fall of 1929, economist Irving Fisher announced that "stock prices have reached what looks like a permanent plateau." ()

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