'Cyclifying' human behavior, from stocks to sex

October 25, 1992|By Ian Johnson | Ian Johnson,New York Bureau

New York -- What is it like if you know for sure that the U.S. economy is faced with a period of prolonged economic turmoil? If you're Richard Mogey, you can always take comfort in knowing that we're also heading for a cultural Renaissance.

Mr. Mogey, who heads the non-profit Foundation for the Study of Cycles, believes both predictions because he uses cycles to map the past and gauge the future. With more than 30,000 cycles at his foundation's disposal, Mr. Mogey confidently claims that the economy is the pits, the world is more idealistic than in the past, and modern art is pretty much dead.

The foundation, best known for its economic predictions, also churns out vast quantities of cycles on almost every facet of human behavior. Love, sex, blood pressure and religious fervors are all quantified and "cyclified."

The conclusions may depress stock market investors, but not Mr. Mogey, if only because the golden rule of cycles is that today's downturn will eventually be tomorrow's golden days.

The foundation is sure that everything is quantifiable cyclically, Mr. Mogey said, because human behavior tends to swing in cycles. Societies reassess themselves every 30 years, putting the United States in the position it held in 1962 -- with the important qualifier that this year is a presidential election year.

Other cycles chart the seesaw battle between war and peace, the rise and fall of idealism and seven-year emotional cycles. All of them could be useful to people as a way of understanding their current situation, Mr. Mogey said.

A prudent man himself, Mr. Mogey believes that the United States went astray in accepting the Keynesian economic policies of the New Deal and in dropping the gold standard. Inflation, he said, has been the country's plague since then.

This could lead to fatalism, but the depressed should look up, Mr. Mogey said.

"Does the fact that you know it's going to get cold in the winter and that you need a coat lead to fatalism? Or does it lead to prudence in you buying a coat?" Mr. Mogey said. "It's possible to be more pessimistic if you think that the bad times won't end. The key is that night is always followed by the day."

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