This past Tuesday night was a busy one at the day job – we had our annual awards dinner and we rolled out a new name and logo for the organization. The organization was founded in 1980 and as I prepared for my emcee duties I decided to do a little research so that I could do a little retrospective on what the world was like 31 years ago. It was fun, especially since I was in 8th grade in 1980 and while I do remember things like seeing Jimmy Carter on the news, I was your average self-absorbed teen and really wasn't aware of what was going on in my parents' day-to-day lives as they made their way through life. Here's a taste of what I found using various sites online — I'm not going to vouch for absolute perfection on the numbers, but they're all close enough to give you a sense of what was going on at the time:
- Soviet Union was in Afghanistan
- US boycotted the Moscow Olympics
- Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall was top song
- A bunch of people tuned into Dallas to see who shot JR Ewing and Bo and Luke Duke were driving around being chased by the dumbest sheriff ever born.
- First fax machines were available in Japan
- Average 30 year mortgage rate was 15.28%
- Yearly rate of inflation was 13.58%
- Median value of a house in NC was $36,000 ($101,000 in today’s dollars)
- Average monthly gross rent in NC was $205 ($577 in today’s dollars)
- Gallon of gas cost $1.19 ($3.35 in today’s dollars)
- NC unemployment rate in March, 1980 was 5.2%
The first time I ever signed my name to a mortgage was in 1993 and I remember the loan officer telling me and my wife that we were really lucky to be able to get our sub-9% mortgage, and telling us what a wonderful thing PMI was so that we didn't have to put down more than 10% for our loan. I remember agreeing with him because I could remember my mom and stepfather talking about their wonderful 16% note just 14 years earlier (mainly because I was bored to death sitting at the closing for that purchase when I was a self-absorbed teenager). I also remember sweating bullets as we were asked uncomfortable questions about payments that were a week late on store charge cards a couple of years earlier, and even about some late payments I'd had in college. You can imagine my shock when I started reading about no-look loans, and you can also probably imagine why I'm not particularly sympathetic to those who get their panties in a twist when mortgage rates bounce up a scootch to 4.7%. It's all a matter of perspective.