A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from October 15, 2008
“A rising tide lifts all boats” (Wall Street proverb)

In a 1963 speech pledging the continued defense of Europe, President John F. Kennedy stated: “As they say on my own Cape Cod, ‘A rising tide lifts all the boats.’” Since at least 1950, the slogan of the New England Council had been “The Rising Tide Lifts All The Boats.”
The pro-business New England Council and President Kennedy both made the phrase famous, and it was not long before Wall Street claimed the metaphorical phrase. The Wall Street proverb means that in a bull market (a strong economy or “rising tide”), all stocks (“boats”) benefit. The reverse (bear market) argument can also be made, although a phrase such as “When the tide goes out, all boats are sunk” hasn’t caught on.
The phrase “the rising tide lifts all boats/ships” was cited in print in 1910 and 1915, and appears to have been used in Christian sermons.
Wikipedia: A rising tide lifts all boats
The aphorism “a rising tide lifts all boats” is associated with the idea that improvements in the general economy will benefit all participants in that economy, and that economic policy, particularly government economic policy, should therefore focus on the general macroeconomic environment first and foremost. The phrase is said to have been coined by Seán Lemass, the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) in 1959–1966. Lemass himself attributed the phrase to John F. Kennedy. Kennedy employed the expression to combat criticisms that his tax cuts would benefit mostly wealthy individuals.
The expression also applies to free-market policies, in that comparative-advantage production and subsequent trade would theoretically increase incomes for all participating entities. It is a favorite proverb of former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.
The substantive aspect of the statement is that economic growth which raises the GDP of the entire economy will also raise the incomes of all of the individuals within the economy. However, not all industries track the overall economy, and the creative destruction process of capitalism requires inefficient industries to yield to more efficient industries. For the aphorism to be strictly true, one would never expect to see a ‘going out of business’ sign during a rising economy. There many examples in economic history in which an increase in GDP per capita did not raise the incomes of large groups of individuals in the society. According to the US Census, the real per-capita GDP in the United States increased by 71% between 1980 and 2006, but median household income increased by less than 20%.
Google Books
The Yale Book of Quotations
By Fred R. Shapiro
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
Pg. 422:
John F. Kennedy
U.S. president, 1917-1963
A rising tide lifts all the boats.
Remarks, Pueblo, Colo., 17 Aug. 1962. In a later address Kennedy referred to this as a saying from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. An earlier occurrence appears in the Wall Street Journal, 29 Oct. 1957: “The Rising Tide Lifts All Boats.”
18 January 1910, Passaic (NJ) Daily Herald, “United Laymen to Spread the Gospel” by E. M. Camp, pg. 7, col. 3:
The reply of those in charge of this campaign is that a rising tide lifts all boats, and that all religious work will be benefitted.
Newspapers.com (This article is mis-dated on the database.—ed.)
26 September 1915, Charlotte (NC) Daily Observer, “Working C. E. Up to Its Limit” by William T. Ellis, pg. 26, col. 4:
“The rising tide lifts all ships.” The direct plan for improvement by every Christian Endeavor society is to identify itself with all union movements.
23 July 1916, Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram, “Lone Church Is Endeavoring to Convert Entire Chinese Sector,” part 2, pg. 24:
A Rising Tide Lifts All Ships.
7 September 1918, Idaho Statesman (Boise, ID), “Sunday Schoool Lesson” by William T. Ellis, pg. 8:
There is a wide-spread discussion among the army officers and men, during the spaces of time when talk is the only possible recreation, of the new and nobler social order that is to follow the war. “The rising tide lifts all ships.”
21 February 1920, New York (NY) Times, pg. 7 ad:
The gain of one is the gain of all: “the rising tide lifts all the boats.”
(Cornell University—ad.)
7 September 1934, Huntingdon (PA) Daily News, pg. 7, col. 4:
No cracker-box wiseacre was Hezekiah, grumbling footlessly about what somebody else ought to do. He was a king and a leader. His sense was sound. So he saw that a mighty wave of national awakening was necessary to cure a multitude of evil local conditions. “The rising tide lifts all ships.”
30 October 1937, Marion (OH) Star, pg. 2, col. 7:
The revival mottoes are “Attempt Great Things for God, Expect Great Things From God” and “A Rising Tide Lifts All the Boats.”
15 September 1950, Portland (ME) Press Herald, “New England Council,” pg. 7, col. 1:
For years, the famed New England Council has been what the Saturday Evening Post has called it—“The dynamo that is powering the Yankee awkening.” Today it opens at Portland Spring its 100th quarterly meeting, and in advance of that meeting it has distributed copies of its new, exceedingly attractive and highly informative booklet with its arresting slogan, “The Rising Tide Lifts All The Boats.”
8 October 1950, Lowell (MA) Sun, pg. 57, col. 2:
“The rising tide lifts all boats,” points out the N. E. council. For 25 years it has sought to increase New England’s contribution to national prosperity as the best means of furthering the growth and progress of our own region.
To this end, N. E. council advocates these as New England must-do and will-do, and from those things, all New England will prosper for “the rising tide lifts all boats.”
9 October 1950, Hartford (CT) Courant, pg. 8:
The Rising Tide Lifts All the Boats
31 March 1952, Berkshire (MA) Evening Eagle, “Our New England: We Don’t Need Any Coddling From Washington To Help Us Solve Our Economic Problems” by John H. Crider, pg. 14, col. 5:
But on the other hand we can apply nationally the slogan which the New England Council applies to our own region “a rising tide lifts all the boats.” If that’s true for units of business in New England, it’s true for the country as a whole.
Google Books
Building a Faculty in a Church-related College of Liberal Arts
By Clarence E. Ficken
Published by Division of Educational Institutions, Board of Education, Methodist Church
Pg. 71:
Adams, Arthur S., “The Rising Tide Lifts All the Boats,” College and University, XXX, No. 4 (July, 1955) pp. 393-398.
Google Books
The status seekers:
an exploration of class behavior in America and the hidden barriers that affect you, your community, your future

By Vance Oakley Packard
Published by Kazuo Noda
Pg. 22:
As they say along the New England coast, ‘The rising tide lifts all the boats.”
20 November 1960, Lowell (MA) Sun, “Increased Investments Vital to New England” by John Miller, pg. 15, col. 2:
“They strengthen the economy as does no other form of revenue. Everybody benefits. The rising tide lifts all the boats.”
26 June 1963, New York (NY) Times, “Text of President Kennedy’s Address Pledging Continued Defense of Europe,” pg. 16:
As they say on my own Cape Cod, “A rising tide lifts all the boats.” And a partnership, by definition, serves both partners, without domination or unfair advantage.
Google Books
What Wall Street Doesn’t Want You to Know:
How You Can Build Real Wealth Investing in Index Funds

By Larry E. Swedroe
New York, NY: Macmillan
Pg. 265:
A rising tide lifts all boats. It’s not until the tide goes out that you realize who’s swimming naked.
—Warren Buffett

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • Wednesday, October 15, 2008 • Permalink

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