Will we be stupid enough to fall for the next 'this will get you rich' sell?
I was fortunate to grow up in a family where the cattle trade and stock markets were constantly discussed. Rogues and tricksters were well known and played a large part in both businesses.
To have survived the Economic War and the booms and busts was no mean feat, and I can still hear my father's words regarding the banks, who would "give you an umbrella when the sun is shining and look for it back when it starts to rain".
History constantly repeats itself yet, listening to the news, anyone would think the current crisis was something new. What about the 1930s? Or even the Great Famine? That one must have been tough, and I would rather owe the bank €500,000 and lose my home than watch my children starve. But then the Famine was not of our own doing, whereas, in the past decade, we borrowed silly amounts of money for imprudent investments.
We are great at blaming others for our current woes but we are all adults and are better educated than ever before.
Economic busts are nothing new. They regularly happen, usually helped along by greedy politicians and financiers, but it is only when we, the public, join in that trouble really starts. Does anyone remember back in the 1950s when Shanahan Stamps was the hottest investment going and how thousands of people lost their savings when it collapsed? Like all such schemes, it made a lot of money for those who got in early and then had the sense to take their profit and exit. Those who got out early were few as most couldn't resist the lure of riches.
Greed kept most investors involved and, like every over-hyped investment, latecomers were the ones to lose the most.
Canals were another bubble that cost thousands of citizens their life savings. At first they were hugely successful and this continued until the railways came along. The railways then lost out to roads and, yet again, fortunes went up in smoke.
It is fascinating to read the history of economic crashes. The astonishing thing is how they keep recurring and they will, of course, happen again as long as we are silly enough to follow each new craze.