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Planet Money - Lively economics reporting from the people who brought you The Giant Pool of Money which is a surpringingly entertaining explanation of the housing meltdown. View a list of all the economics podcasts from Planet Money - interesting and helpful for understanding a variety of economic principles and dilemmas.
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Bubbles - economic history repeats itself!
"A Satire of Tulip Mania" by Jan Brueghel the Younger, ca. 1640
(see below for description of the image from the Frans Hal Museum, in Haarlem, The Netherlands)
Whether it has been tulips or real estate, humankind has a repetitive history of buying something when the price was rising only to experience sudden and catastrophic falling values -- known as a 'bubble'.
(Explanation of image above) "One monkey points to flowering tulips while another brandishes a tulip and a moneybag. This is how artist Jan Brueghel indicates that this painting is about the tulip trade. A sale is concluded by hand-clapping. Bulbs are weighed, money is counted, a lavish business dinner is savoured. The monkey on the left has a list of names of expensive tulips. The sword at his side is a status symbol. Farther back, a monkey sits like a nobleman astride a horse. Another in the mid-foreground is drawing up a bill of sale. The owl on his shoulder symbolises folly. Brueghel is ridiculing tulip mania by depicting the speculators as brainless monkeys. The painting also shows what happened when the tulip trade crashed: a monkey on the right urinates on the - now worthless - tulips. Behind him a speculator who has run up debts is being brought before the magistrate. A monkey sits weeping in the dock and in the centre at the back a disappointed buyer is wielding his fists. At the back to the right a speculator is even being carried to his grave."
from http://vangoghschair.blogspot.com/2008/10/tulip-mania.html (4/30/09)