OK, recession isn’t a four-letter word, but it might as well be for all the hurt it inflicts. Economists call it a natural, though painful, part of the business cycle. Easy for them to say. When you’re in one, it’s unnerving, and the uncertainty of what tomorrow will bring can weigh heavily on your mind.
We know that all too well having endured the Great Recession, which officially lasted from December 2007 to June 2009. It makes me wonder about recessions past, so let’s take a look back.
As the 1970s dawned, the nation was in a relatively mild recession. The cover story of the March 2, 1970 issue of Pool News (as we were called then) carried the headline “Recession in 1970? Survey Shows Pool Industry Unworried.” Dozens of builders, manufacturers and distributors were contacted, yet not one would say they were affected. Some even expected a banner year -- except in Southern California, where the market had been down for more than a year. The editor was puzzled.
A month later, Fay Coupe’s editorial addressed the issue, stating among other things: “We’ve found that even when we explain that names will not be used, we still get nothing but rosy reports. Are things really that good for everybody in the pool industry? We’d like to think so, but we fear there’s more than a grain of truth in the words of a longtime distributor who said, ‘The pool industry is immature in its unwillingness to face the fact that we are in a recession and that we are going to be affected by it. You would not find company presidents in a more mature, well-established industry making [those kinds] of statements.’ ”
Was it a case of industry professionals in denial, or had the recession actually bypassed them? Either way, by summer 1970, Pool News did hear from builders that business was down. Fortunately, things started looking up by the end of that year.
Of course, as the economists would say, it was all par for the course. There would be more recessions – indeed, in 1973-75 there was yet another, stronger recession. And don’t get me started on the Great Recession. Let’s just be thankful that the 2013 season is looking promising, and leave it at that.