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  • Writer's pictureJeff Matthews

Real Estate Cartoons in the New Yorker…Yes, The New Yorker

One nice waspy-looking couple says to the other, “We sold our two-bedroom in the Village at a great price and bought the Virgin Islands.”

Thus, in the April 18 issue, The New Yorker adds to its inventory of market-topping cartoons that have appeared, with uncanny regularity, at extremes since the magazine’s founding in 1925. This one surely marking some sort of peak in the real estate bubble.

It struck me especially after recently looking through the huge book of New Yorker cartoons with our younger daughter. She didn’t grasp many of them, especially those related to the stock market, topical economic events and of-the-moment business celebrities.

An early-90’s Roz Chast “Martha Stewart Takes Over The Universe” panel is especially out-of-place now, while the Internet bubble is best summed up in the year 2000 cartoon showing two airline pilots at the controls of a large jet, one exclaiming, “This is so cool! I’m flying this thing completely on my Palm pilot!”

(My favorite, less frozen-in-time internet era cartoon is the bum on a plane sitting in First Class next to a very well dressed businessman, saying, “I got my ticket for three dollars over the Internet. Are you going to eat that salmon?”)

Other eras are all marked with their own, dated cartoons. From the mid-70’s energy crisis to the 1929 crash.

In 1981, with the stock market still adjusting to Volcker’s inflation-busting Fed policy, and a year away from beginning the great 1982-2000 bull market, the New Yorker summed up things this way:

“On Wall Street today, news of lower interst rates sent the stock market up, but then the expectation that these rates would be inflationary sent the market down, until the realization that lower rates might stimulate the sluggish economy pushed the market up, before it ultimately went down on fears that an overheated economy would lead to a reimposition of higher interest rates.”

Sounds familiar.

Jeff Matthews I Am Not Making This Up

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