A couple of years ago, Barry Ritholtz's Big Picture blog posted this 1927-1933 Chart of Pompous Prognosticators
Chart locations are an approximate indication only
Here are some of the accompanying quotes:
1. "We will not have any more crashes in our time."
- John Maynard Keynes
5. "Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau. I do not feel there will be soon if ever a 50 or 60 point break from present levels, such as (bears) have predicted. I expect to see the stock market a good deal higher within a few months."
- Irving Fisher, Ph.D. in economics
, Oct. 17, 1929
7. "The decline is in paper values, not in tangible goods and services...America is now in the eighth year of prosperity as commercially defined. The former great periods of prosperity in America averaged eleven years. On this basis we now have three more years to go before the tailspin."
- Stuart Chase (American economist and author)
, NY Herald Tribune, November 1, 1929
"Hysteria has now disappeared from Wall Street."
- The Times of London, November 2, 1929
"The Wall Street crash doesn't mean that there will be any general or serious business depression... For six years American business has been diverting a substantial part of its attention, its energies and its resources on the speculative game... Now that irrelevant, alien and hazardous adventure is over. Business has come home again, back to its job, providentially unscathed, sound in wind and limb, financially stronger than ever before."
- Business Week, November 2, 1929
8. "Financial storm definitely passed."
- Bernard Baruch
, cablegram to Winston Churchill, November 15, 1929
9. "I see nothing in the present situation that is either menacing or warrants pessimism... I have every confidence that there will be a revival of activity in the spring, and that during this coming year the country will make steady progress."
- Andrew W. Mellon
, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury December 31, 1929
"[1930 will be] a splendid employment year."
- U.S. Dept. of Labor, New Year's Forecast, December 1929
15. "Gentleman, you have come sixty days too late. The depression is over."
- Herbert Hoover
, responding to a delegation requesting a public works program to help speed the recovery, June 1930
20. "All safe deposit boxes in banks or financial institutions have been sealed... and may only be opened in the presence of an agent of the I.R.S."
- President F.D. Roosevelt
(The above link
has the full list of quotes. While the quotes and their accompanying identifing blurbs are from the original site, I added links to Wikipedia articles for more background.)
My thinking on this is that it's not necessarily the case that if you say something foolish it means you're a fool. Rather, it's that smart people can say things that look very dumb in retrospect.
In the current situation, some people are likely saying things that will end up looking pretty silly.