Monday, June 6, 2011

Betting on Bankruptcy and Ruin

Here is the lead bit from an article by Barry Ritholtz in the Washington Post:
After a recession, the least rational rise (temporarily) to prominence. Ignore them.

If you are reading this, the previously scheduled end of the world did not occur. Perhaps the date was wrong — next Saturday night? 1994? October?

Despite millennia of Armageddon forecasts, betting on the end of the world has always been a money-losing wager. Given this oh-fer batting record of 0.000 percent, one wonders why people still regularly make this forecast. Wall Street fund strategists, religious zealots and economists seem strangely drawn to it. Never mind that if it were ever a winning trade, no one would be left for you to collect from. (That is called counterparty risk.)

You humans are a hardy breed. No matter how dire the circumstance, your species has managed to prosper.

You survived the Ice Age, the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, the Age of Aquarius (as well as Disco and Polyester). Mother Nature has thrown floods, earthquakes, droughts, plagues, pandemics, tornadoes, asteroids, tsunamis, hurricanes, melting glaciers and global warming at you. Not to mention world wars and nuclear proliferation.

Economically, you’ve withstood the Panics of 1819, 1825, 1837, 1847, 1857, 1866, 1873, 1884, 1890, 1893, 1896, 1907, 1929, 1933, 1938, 1973, 1987, 1998, 2000, and 2007-09 — and that is just over the past two centuries. You also saw through the Tulip Bubble, the South Sea Bubble, the Great Depression and the Great Recession, the Nifty-Fifty, the Asian Contagion, the Dot-com Bubble, the subprime fiasco and Bernie Madoff.

What is it going to take to kill this species off — or at least to bankrupt it?

Given this long and storied history of survival, why does anyone pay attention to the dang fools predicting the end of the world?
Go read the whole article because at this point he starts explaining why people are such suckers for doom & gloom. He provides a very long classification of the varieties of doomsters and poisonous prophets.

No comments: