The Economy Is A Fragile Thing

It is time to revisit President Hinckley’s October 1998 General Conference Priesthood Session Talk. The one entitled “To the Boys and to the Men.” He first speaks to the young men and then to the “older men.” To the brethren he first reads from Genesis 41, wherein Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams as seven years of plenty and seven of famine. There has been some speculation that this could mean a real seven years of plenty and seven years of famine in our day, and variations thereof. That is not my focus today.

With the Dow barely recovering off a twelve year low it will be profitable to hear what a prophet (though he was not prophesying) was saying back in 1998.

We have witnessed in recent weeks wide and fearsome swings in the markets of the world. The economy is a fragile thing. A stumble in the economy in Jakarta or Moscow can immediately affect the entire world. It can eventually reach down to each of us as individuals. There is a portent of stormy weather ahead to which we had better give heed.

He had concerns about debt, bankruptcies, and advertising:

I repeat, I hope we will never again see such a depression. But I am troubled by the huge consumer installment debt which hangs over the people of the nation, including our own people….Everyone knows that every dollar borrowed carries with it the penalty of paying interest. When money cannot be repaid, then bankruptcy follows….We are beguiled by seductive advertising. Television carries the enticing invitation to borrow up to 125 percent of the value of one’s home. But no mention is made of interest.

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