Cumberland Advisors Market Commentary –  Good Morning to Bill Allen

Author: David R. Kotok, Post Date: May 4, 2020
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Dear Readers,

We would like to open our Sunday morning missive with this two minute message introduced by a prominent COVID19 survivor.

We thank Christian Calgie for bringing this video to our attention:

Watch in the player or via this link: https://youtu.be/o9sWfBbOhzQ

Now, on to our missive. We’ve been using the World War 2 metaphor for help in understanding the Covid-19 crisis and the period we are facing. Readers may recall our two recent commentaries: “WW2 versus WWC: The Doolittle Moment,” https://www.cumber.com/cumberland-advisors-market-commentary-ww2-versus-wwc-the-doolittle-moment/, and “Fed Goes to War,” https://www.cumber.com/cumberland-advisors-market-commentary-fed-goes-to-war/.

A Long Boat Key resident, Bill Allen, emailed me about the “Arsenal of Democracy” moment. He was referring to the rapid and decisive way the United States built up the machines of war in preparation for and during WW2. He lamented about the lack of that decisiveness and leadership today. BTW, for a discussion of that period, we recommend A. J. Baime’s book, The Arsenal of Democracy (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FJ5EPVG/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1), which describes how America produced “1556 naval ships; 5777 merchant ships; 88,410 jeeps; 2,383,311 trucks; 6.5 million rifles and 40 billion bullets between 1940 and 1945.” Source: New York Times book review, July 3, 2014, by Charles N. Edel.

It makes one wonder how the Roosevelt Administration could accomplish the production needed then, and yet now we do not have enough masks and other PPE and test kits.

I asked Bill Allen for permission to share his e-letter to me with readers. He quickly agreed. I then asked him to tell me a little about himself, since most readers would not be likely to know who he is.

Bill sent me the following autobiographical sketch with permission to share it. I have edited it with his permission. He also sent a note with a second book recommendation for those who are hunkered down in some version of isolation. That book is The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz, by Erik Larson, https://www.amazon.com/Splendid-Vile-Churchill-Family-Defiance-ebook/dp/B07TRVW6VX.

We will offer the autobiographical sketch first and then Bill’s letter. Let me say “thank you” to Bill Allen for his service to our country and for sharing his views.

David R. Kotok
Chairman of the Board & Chief Investment Officer
Email | Bio


David,

I am in my 92nd year – grew up on Long Island – attended a small college in Vermont on an athletic scholarship – was too young for WW2 but served in Korea – got a job with RCA in human resources.

In 1959 they sent me to Florida to work at Cape Canaveral on their contract to do tech support for all the shots from the Cape during both pre-NASA and post-NASA periods, primarily the Apollo Program.

Subsequently, RCA opened a manufacturing and engineering plant in Palm Beach Gardens. They offered me the top HR job there, where we grew to 4,000 employees. The operation was closed in 1986. I took retirement and then ran my own HR consulting company for 14 years, providing a variety of services to clients, mostly private sector. My first wife passed away at age 60 and I remarried three years later to a beautiful lady whom I met on a tennis court. I was 62 and she was 46 – I was a USTA senior state tennis champion and she had a high ranking in the women’s 35s. Up until this pandemic nightmare we were each playing six days a week, and I was still playing singles. We relocated here in 2012 and came to LBK since there is great tennis here. I have two kids and they are great.

You asked about my comment on “the greatest generation”. Tom Brokaw defined members of that group as those who grew up during the Great Depression, which I did, and who later served their country during wartime, which I did. I am saddened by what has happened to this country. I was speaking to someone the other day and referred to the pro-environmental photo of a Native American with a tear flowing from his eye, which is the way I feel about the decline of our society and our government. The NY Times and the WSJ have both reported that 71% of young people who attempt to join the US Army are rejected for one or more of several reasons; and on another topic, we have just seen the disgraceful command relief of the captain of the Roosevelt carrier, who acted out of frustration over his dysfunctional superiors. David, I have given you more than you asked for as far as my background, but you can pick and choose.

 


Here is Bill Allen’s original letter to me:


David,

Thank you for the “Doolittle moment”. I am a member of what Tom Brokaw called “the Greatest Generation” – those who grew up in and endured the adversity of the Great Depression and subsequently served our country during wartime. I am a member of a small group here on LBK which meets once a week to discuss current events. At our last meeting I spoke about a subject very similar to yours, but I went back a little further. The focus of my talk preceded the Doolittle moment and dealt with the fact that we just seem to be unable to fulfill the needs for medical materials required to deal with this pandemic. My reference was to a similar situation which emanated from FDR, in which he called upon the industries of this country to become “the arsenal of democracy”. He put a Danish American named William Knudsen in charge, and the transition that took place was one of the greatest achievements in our history. From there I spoke of the Doolittle raid, which entailed 16 bombers taking off from the carrier “Hornet” four months after Pearl Harbor; and six months after Pearl we had a “Midway” moment when we achieved what is recognized as the greatest victory in the history of naval warfare by sinking four Japanese carriers in a 24-hour period. We were so fortunate to have great leaders in both government and military then, but we don’t have them anymore or anything close, which is why we are not having an “arsenal of democracy moment”.

Regards

BILL ALLEN


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