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The biggest difference between the 1970-80s is that the FED could raise the interest rates to reduce inflation.  Presently the FED has to cut rates even though the dollar is inflating because of the mortgage crisis and average debt per consumer.  IF the FED was to raise rates to 15%, it would push many Americans into bankrupcy because of the ARM mortgages and/or amount of debt they owe on credit cards.  Due to the lack of government regulation on mortgage lending and credit extension the FED is crippled to respond during times of inflation.

As for the 'nifty 17' providing as much safety as a bomb shelter on the planet of Alderon.  Well I'll be honest and say that I'm to lazy to go back and check if their PE ratios actually hit 6-8 during the mid 70s.  So I'll agree with you that it is very difficult to make money on long positions during a recession especially when you can just short bubbles. 

<>PS.  I had to wikipedia 'Alderon' to figure out that it was the planet that was destroyed by Darth Vadar's Death Star.  Can't you use a more modern reference for the younger generation of bloggers?  Like, 'your nifty 17 will be as safe as Steve Irwin in a tank of sting rays' or 'your nifty 17 will perform as well as Hugh Hefner without Viagra'
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