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Is this the 2020s or the 1970s?

Jonathan D. Epstein

Spencer Levy has fond memories of the 1970s – sort of.

"Everything I learned in life I learned in the 1970s," said the senior economic adviser and chairman of America's research for brokerage firm CBRE, who turns 50 this year, as he played "That's the Way (I Like It)" by KC & The Sunshine Band during a presentation this month to nearly 200 guests at CBRE's Marketview presentation.

"I remember the end of the Vietnam War, and thinking how does the United States get involved in these endless wars that we can’t win?" he said, flashing through a series of images on a projector screen. "I remember we had a very unpopular president that people were trying to do harm to. I remember the Iranian hostage crisis. I used to count down the days when I was a kid."

He recalled the Ford Pinto, whose design flaw meant it would explode if it was hit at the proper angle in the back.

"The scandal was that the manufacturer of the car knew about the defect, but decided not to fix it, because the lawsuits would be cheaper than the recall," Levy said. "The scandal was whether or not capitalism had gone too far."

Finally, he said, he remembered "a blond-haired rebel who was prime minister of the United Kingdom, trying to separate the United Kingdom from the European Union."

"So let's recap: issues with Russia, with endless wars, with an unpopular president, with Iran, with capitalism going too far, and with a blond-haired rebel leading the UK out of the European Union," he said wryly. "So I ask you: What's changed? Nothing."

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