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Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Mania Chronicles and Dubai

I remember picture of Dubai being sent to me by a friend, maybe 2 years back. They were bragging about having 25% of all the worlds cranes, making islands in the sea, building the tallest building. Part of it was $140 oil, but part of it was mania, plain and simple, MANIA. Mania is part of the human condition.

Check out this link related to Dubai today
http://origin-www.fastcompany.com/multimedia/slideshows/content/dubai.html?page=11

I believe that what we have gone through, and are going through, is one of the biggest manias of the last 500 years or so. Elliot Wave International promotes this view, which at first glance is pretty shocking. But as you study it more, it becomes more believable, even giving a sense of comfort in understanding the mania. However, as much as you can anticipate Armageddon, as much as you can bet and profit from the market effects of entering Armageddon, as much as you can prepare yourself and your family---Armageddon will still be terrible. Don't "look forward to it".



I purchased the EWI "The Mania Chronicles" which is a massive tome. We are in a mania, or perhaps on the tail end of it, but the fallout may last for a decade or more. If you have any doubt of this, I would say it is very important that you assess the situation from a point of education. Don't keep such an opinion based only on "it's what I think". "The Mania Chronicles" is a slam dunk way to get the view from 40,000 feet. You cannot understand what is going on unless you understand the nature of "Mania".

Mania is not new. Even in the 19th century an English Journalist, Charles Mackay wrote "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" which discussed the 1637 Dutch Tulip Mania in which family fortunes were lost on speculation in which Tulip Traders were "making" the modern day equivalent of $60,000 PER MONTH trading tulips. Of course this eventually blew up.

The "Beggar Thy neighbor" theme became apparent after the blow up.

" At last, however, the more prudent began to see that this folly could not last for ever. Rich people no longer bought the flowers to keep them in their gardens, but to sell them again at cent. per cent. profit. It was seen that somebody must lose fearfully in the end. As this conviction spread, prices fell, and never rose again. Confidence was destroyed, and a universal panic seized upon the dealers. A had agreed to purchase ten Sempers Augustines from B, at four thousand florins each, at six weeks after the signing of the contract. B was ready with the flowers at the appointed time; but the price had fallen to three or four hundred florins, and A refused either to pay the difference or receive the tulips. Defaulters were announced day after day in all the towns of Holland. Hundreds who, a few months previously, had begun to doubt that there was such a thing as poverty in the land, suddenly found themselves the possessors of a few bulbs, which nobody would buy, even though they offered them at one quarter of the sums they had paid for them. The cry of distress resounded everywhere, and each man accused his neighbour. The few who had contrived to enrich themselves hid their wealth from the knowledge of their fellow-citizens, and invested it in the English or other funds. Many who, for a brief season, had emerged from the humbler walks of life, were cast back into their original obscurity. Substantial merchants were reduced almost to beggary, and many a representative of a noble line saw the fortunes of his house ruined beyond redemption."

And here is an article from Feb 1999, poo-pooing people who talk of tulip-mania, and that the market is a "highly effective capital allocation system", and that the "The longer the Internet leaders stay up (by this, I mean relative to the capital invested in them, not relative to the price at which they traded yesterday or last year), the less like a bubble it looks and the more it looks like the result of a rational, complex pricing mechanism."
http://www.fool.com/EveningNews/foth/1999/foth990211.htm

Note the title "Fool on the Hill"--kind of amusing isn't it? My old English teacher would say this is "Richly Ambiguous"

Finally, check out this book from 1841, it describes how States can't pay their debt, how speculation has led former producers to be consumers, and how the west over speculated on their McMansions (OK I made that up a little). The more things change, the more they remain the same.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the History...it is remarkable how very simular the dynamics of the human condition remains ever vigilant.

    ReplyDelete

Insightful and Useful Comment!