Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Plumes, Tulips, and Mortgages

Sarah Stein's book, Plumes, was reviewed by Stephen Birmingham, in the WSJ on November 19, 2008. It shows the fallacy of human greed and is yet another reminder of our tendency to engage in overzealous optimism. To wit,

It is the tulip craze that is most often cited in discussions of speculative bubbles, like the frenzy of for Internet stocks a decade ago and the more recent madness in the mortgage and credit markets. But the rage for ostrich feathers a century ago is instructive, too. When ostrich feathers flounced into vogue among the fashionable set in Paris, London, and New York, traders assumed that the popularity of plumes would stay permanently aloft, as if floating on an endless zephyr.

An ostrich feather bubble? Just one hundred years ago? Oh, the human frailty.

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