Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rising and Falling

I've had an eye for financial and economic scandals these days. I finished reading a book called 'Safe as Houses' and am presently reading one of my favourites right now. It's called 'Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds'. It's by Charles Mackay (father of equally talented author Marie Correlli), and this book discusses the deadly speculations like the South Sea Bubble, Tulipomania, the problems of alchemy, and anything else that schemers used to trick the gullible out of their hard-earned money. This book was written long before the likes of Robert Maxwell, Michael Milken, and Ivan Boesky (to say nothing of B-REX), but there are many villains here as well.
I'm not going to condemn these legendary and contemporary villains, as other people have done it much better than I could do. I want to talk a little about money and the economy. I don't know a whole lot about the economy and financial matters (that's what the library is for), but based on what I do know, the Stock Exchange rises to mountainous levels, sinks deeper than the sea, and then smoothes itself out again. At the end of it, some are richer, more are poorer, and the rest of us are no different than before. For those who can ride out these lumps and bumps, things end up no different, I mean. Take 'Tulipomania', for instance. I use this example because it's just so appropriate when discussing things going wildly out of control and then settling down again.
I also love the story about the sailor who sat down to eat an onion with his breakfast, only to find out that his 'onion' was an impossibly expensive tulip bulb. People who are willing to pay thousands of florins for a couple of tulip bulbs, in my opinion, deserve to have their profits literally eaten up like that. After the bubble burst and people found themselves a little poorer, things settled down in Holland again. Today I don't think that people are going to shell out like that for a couple of bulbs. I'm just saying that once the bubble burst and the names of the wealthy changed, the country returned to normal.
Perhaps I'm looking at this whole thing with Semi-Buddhist Eyes again, but once things have wildly gone up, and then just as wildly down, very little has changed. Same people, different names, you might say. It isn't that I don't feel for the regular people who put their trust in guys like Robert Maxwell and Ivan Boesky, for I know they were swindled by junk-bonds and thieving, greedy minds. In the end, Boesky got in trouble and Maxwell took the coward's way out. Karma wins out in the end.
I'm done rambling for now about economy. I need to get reading up on it some more.

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