Comparing what I hear in current discussions with what I hear on old radio from the '30s and '40s, I noticed that radio in those decades didn't talk much about stocks and shares and dividends. Stocks were mentioned in cop shows and racket-warning shows, in the context of stock swindles, but otherwise didn't seem to be a common topic of discussion. No jokes about the stock market in comedy shows, no focus on stocks in news or analysis shows. I've previously noted
the non-discussion of scrip, which was organized quickly and efficiently to compensate for the closure of most banks in early '33.
Google's Ngram thingie disagrees sharply, but Ngram is processing books and a few magazines, not radio and newspapers.
Here's "stocks and bonds":
And "government securities", an odd phrase that was fairly common in those cop-type shows:
Books and radio sharply diverge on "stocks and bonds", but agree on "government securities".
Why the disparity? Guessing:
Non-fiction books were either defending the market's crimes against FDR's newly energized cops, or defending the cops against the criminals.
Ordinary people had been deluded by Rockefeller and Morgan into thinking that they could be the next Rockefeller or Morgan. After they lost their shirts**, they felt miserable and didn't want to be reminded of the delusion. Radio writers and advertisers picked up on this misery and avoided the topic.
The same delusion is running now. Bezos and Elon are deluding ordinary people into believing that they can be the next Bezos or Elon. This delusion is much more durable than the 1920s delusion. Even 2008 didn't cause a hangover.
One oddity that doesn't fit this explanation: "Stocks" started to fade from books around 1975, at the same time when dividends and profit and real business were replaced by the Share Value crime. "Government securities" rose at the same time, but then dropped sharply in 2000 and didn't return.
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** Irrelevant language puzzle: Why shirts? The basic reference is obvious. Gambling until you have nothing left to lose but your clothing, then stripping off and losing your clothing. But the shirt isn't the last thing you'd strip. Also, in cartoons from that era, the gambler is always wearing a barrel instead of clothes. This doesn't make sense. Bars typically had leftover kegs around, but it takes a lot of work to remove the bottom of a keg so you can wear it. I'd think you'd grab a towel or blanket first.
Oh. Later and better thought: The shirt isn't the last available piece of clothing, but it IS the last thing you'd strip. If you wanted to get home without being arrested, you'd stop before losing your pants.
Labels: Asked and badly answered