Records Are Made to Be Broken

By Charlie Bilello

Viewing the New York City skyline from afar last month, I noticed something strange. I could no longer name a number of the tallest buildings.

The Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the new World Trade Center were readily identifiable. But a new crop of skyscrapers was emerging from the shadows, seemingly overnight.

After doing some research, I learned that this was not just my imagination…

Within the next few years, a list of the tallest buildings in New York will look remarkably different. Of the top 20 tallest today, at least 13 will have been replaced. Explosive growth by any measure that few would have predicted back in the financial/real estate crisis that hit New York so hard just a decade ago.

Note: data listed in the tables is standard height, which excludes non-architectural antennas.

“Trees Don’t Grow to the Sky”

“Long in the Tooth”

Two common refrains heard many times in recent years.

But the stock market and economy marches on, threatening to break two historic records within the next 12 months.

The first: 9 straight years of gains in the S&P 500 Total Return Index. The epic run from 1991-1999 will be surpassed if stocks manage to finish higher in 2018 (currently up 5.8%).

The second: 10 years (120 months) of economic expansion. The 1991-2001 boom will be surpassed if the U.S. economy can grow for 4 more quarters.

If someone said ten years ago that the worst recession since the Great Depression would be followed by the longest bull market and economic expansion in the history of the U.S., they would have been laughed out of the room. None of this was expected or predictable. And yet, here we are.

That is is the nature of markets. Like the New York City skyline, they are forever changing, testing our accepted notions of what is normal and what is possible.

Given enough time, all records – inside and outside of markets – will be broken. While trees may not grow to the sky, betting against the inexorable rise in human progress is sure to be a losing one.

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