by Gary Alexander

June 29, 2021

I live in the Pacific Northwest – without air conditioning – and I am writing this with a cool glass of water and an ice pack around my neck. We also had a one-hour power outage Friday night as I began writing.

But I’m not complaining. We’re in the woods by the sea. The temperature here is a good 20 to 25 degrees lower than what some of my children and grandchildren are enduring (with air conditioning) in Portland, Oregon, which reached a record 112 degrees on Sunday. Here in Washington, we may or may not exceed our state high of 118, but I remember well the day that record was set – August 5, 1961.

Along with two high school friends, I was hiking the Necklace Valley near Skykomish, Washington and it felt so hot that day that I enjoyed swimming in one of the glacier-fed lakes named after gemstones – Jade Lake, next to Emerald Lake and Opal Lake, hence Necklace Valley. I found out later that this was the day Washington set a record high of 118 F down on the Snake River at Ice Harbor dam. That record still stands, almost 60 years later, even though it might be broken this week. Time will tell, but what I find more surprising is that 31 state heat records have lasted more than 80 years – despite Global Warming.

Jade Lake and Ice Harbor Dam Images

Nearly half (23) of our 51 state heat records (+DC) were set in the Dust Bowl decade of the 1930s (13 in 1936 alone), and they haven’t been beaten since. Six more were set over a century ago, 1911 to 1917, and two in 1925. Only three state heat records have been broken in the last 25 years – in South Dakota (2006), South Carolina (2012), and Colorado (2019). If America is warming, why aren’t more state heat records being broken? (For specifics on each state, see U.S. state and territory temperature extremes – Wikipedia.)

There is a certain allure to doom, chronicled lately in historian Niall Ferguson’s new book, “Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe.” Those three nouns are linked: Politics plays a big part in doom-mongering.

For instance, I have followed the Doomsday Clock, first published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1947, since elementary school in Eisenhower’s first term, when it seemed stuck at 11:58, two minutes to midnight. I checked it in the library each year, and it was scary. Doomsday was always two minutes away. Later, I noticed how much better things got under JFK’s Camelot, at 7 minutes to midnight, and for LBJ in Vietnam with 12 minutes to spare. I began wondering about the bias of these “atomic scientists.”

Doomsday Clock Graph

Under Ronald Reagan (1984-88) and Donald Trump (2018-20), these scientists brought Doom closer!

The Doomsday Clock Under Democrats The Doomsday Clock Under Republicans
  11:53 pm during JFK’s 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis   11:57 pm under President Ronald Reagan, 1984-88
  11:48 pm under LBJ during Vietnam, 1963-68   11:58 pm under President Donald Trump, 2018-20

It’s pretty clear that the closest we came to Doomsday was during the Cuban Missile Crisis, yet the Clock gave us 7 minutes’ grace then, vs. just 2-3 minutes to spare under Donald Trump or Ronald Reagan.

Economic Crises Tend to Accompany External Disasters

Turning to economics and the markets, historian Niall Ferguson shows on page 38 that “Many of the greatest economic disasters have, not surprisingly, coincided with the great pandemics and conflicts…”

According to the Bank of England, he wrote, the most recent British annual decline of over 10% was in 1709, the year of the “Great Frost,” the coldest winter in 500 years, attributed to low sunspot activity from the Maunder Minimum and volcanic eruptions at Japan’s Mount Fuji and Europe’s Santorini & Vesuvius.

The worst year of the 20th century (in England) was 1921, due to steep postwar deflation, remnants of the pandemic, and high unemployment. Last year threatened to surpass 1921 (or 1709) with IMF forecasts of a 10.2% decline in GDP for the full year (happily not reached), but Britain’s worst sustained depression by far was in the late 1340s, when the Black Death reduced Europe’s population by about 40%.

America’s Great Depression was also exacerbated by a natural disaster. The first “black duster” or “black blizzard” hit the Great Plains on September 14, 1930, then the weather got worse each succeeding year.

  • On May 11, 1934, a large dust storm swept soil particles from the Great Plains to as far east as Washington DC and 300 miles into the Atlantic.
  • On April 14, 1935, multiple storms in a single afternoon moved twice as much dirt as had been dug in seven years to create the Panama Canal (source: Niall Ferguson’s “Doom,” pages 184-185).

Temperatures rose to record highs throughout the East Coast and into the heartland in the mid-1930s:

United States Temperature in 1936 Pictograph

These 13 states set extreme heat records in mid-1936 that have not been broken in nearly 85 years:

Record State High Temperatures Set in 1936

STATE Date (1936) Temp Town
 North Dakota July 6  122  Steele
 Maryland  July 10  109  Cumberland
 New Jersey  July 10  110  Runyon
 Pennsylvania  July 10  111  Phoenixville
 West Virginia  July 10  112  Martinsburg
 Michigan  July 13  112  Mio
 Wisconsin  July 13  114  Wisconsin Dells
 Indiana  July 14  116  Collegeville
 Kansas  July 24  121  Alton
 Nebraska  July 24  118  Minden
 Louisiana  August 10  114  Plain Dealing
 Arkansas  August 10  120  Ozark
 Oklahoma  August 12  120  Altus
Source: U.S. state and territory temperature extremes – Wikipedia.

From such extremes, the net world temperature cooled from 1940 to 1975 – hence warnings of a Coming Ice Age in the 1970s – but temperatures have risen in the last 40 years, spawning fears of global warming.

I can’t pretend to explain all these changes, but it’s better to admit they exist than to deny them. This chart is by no means conclusive, nor causative, but the global economy soared during the time of global cooling from 1940 to 1975, while the engine has slowed in the warming period –I know the heat slows ME down.

120 Years of World Temperature Graph

And now, happily, economic statistics are humming along once again. The OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) sees the global economy growing 5.8% this year and 4.4% in 2022. The Federal Reserve just revised their 2021 prediction for the U.S. economy up to +7%. But later years don’t (yet) look so good. President Biden’s latest budget calls for sub-2% growth 2024 to 2029 and the OECD sees the economies of France and the UK being 4% lower in 2025 than they were in 2020. The U.S. is the only major economy where expectations for 2025 are higher than they were in January 2020.

Once the heat dies down, I intend to celebrate this 2021 economic recovery – with a Cool One.

All content above represents the opinion of Gary Alexander of Navellier & Associates, Inc.

Please see important disclosures below.

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About The Author

Gary Alexander

Gary Alexander has been Senior Writer at Navellier since 2009.  He edits Navellier’s weekly Marketmail and writes a weekly Growth Mail column, in which he uses market history to support the case for growth stocks.  For the previous 20 years before joining Navellier, he was Senior Executive Editor at InvestorPlace Media (formerly Phillips Publishing), where he worked with several leading investment analysts, including Louis Navellier (since 1997), helping launch Louis Navellier’s Blue Chip Growth and Global Growth newsletters.

Prior to that, Gary edited Wealth Magazine and Gold Newsletter and wrote various investment research reports for Jefferson Financial in New Orleans in the 1980s.  He began his financial newsletter career with KCI Communications in 1980, where he served as consulting editor for Personal Finance newsletter while serving as general manager of KCI’s Alexandria House book division.  Before that, he covered the economics beat for news magazines. All content of “Growth Mail” represents the opinion of Gary Alexander

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