Rodney Johnson’s Future and Mad Men’s Past

             When Rodney Johnson, President of HS Dent, a company that provides economic research, spoke in Dallas last Friday, I was there. I’d not seen Rodney, a long-time client of mine, present since several years ago when I was invited to speak at the annual HS Dent conference myself. It’s always provocative to hear his economic insights.

At one point, Rodney referenced famed economist John Maynard Keynes, an advocate of government stimulus during recessions. Keynes often spoke of stimulating man’s “animal spirits.” A woman near me smirked, thinking Rodney was making fun of Keynes. He did have a point, but it was not so much about Keynes as referencing our current government…. When people who run companies and those who lend money are paralyzed with fear, they don’t take appropriate risk to grow the economy…. That’s what Keynes was talking about.  But what Rodney then said was the reason why he brought it up in the first place:

          What Rodney then added was this, “Risk is a young man’s game.” You see, his perspective is that our population en mass is aging, and this skews Keynesian theory – at least according to Rodney.

As for the recession, well Rodney thinks it is far from over. This doesn’t mean jump from a tall building nor does it mean you should hide under the covers. It means that our economy is readjusting to new realities and it will be for some time.

What this means to my way of thinking is this: Create value. Create value. Create value. During the next few years, maybe we’ll connect with what matters and makes life worth living. We might even get away from our current addiction to Madison Avenue’s whims and the incessant feeding frenzy for Hollywood celebrity. God knows, everyone I know is pretty much sick to death with the whole celebrity thing. It’s as if being cool has completely lost its panache, and the posturing just makes people gag. That is, unless, you happen to be Jon Hamm, star of Mad Men. That’s a horse of a different color. But then the hit AMC television series is a link to another era. In times of uncertainty, the past always looks more comforting than the present. After all, it’s one thing we know exactly how it all turns out.  And as for our current futures, well, we have no idea where things are going from here.

Not even Rodney knows that for sure.