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The great market crash: when a tulip bulb could buy an estate

Jun 02, 2016 12:05PM ● Published by Neighbors Magazines

by John Masus

In the late 16th century, tulips were introduced to Holland from Turkey. The beauty of the tulip was much sought after and a thriving market developed. After a time around 1634 a virus showed up in this already beautiful flower. It was not fatal to the plant but what it did do was alter the color scheme causing “flames” of color to appear on the petals in a gorgeous and unique way. The color schemes were varied so that each flower was different in its own way. Since the tulips were already selling at a premium, this made them even more valuable.

Prices began to rise and speculators wanted to get in on this thing. Whatever this “thing” was. Inventories were going up leading to scarcity and increased demand. People wanted in on this action. They began borrowing, or spending their life savings, selling their land for cash to buy the tulip bulbs. People would liquidate anything to buy more bulbs. The sky was the limit.

The Dutch market thought that the bulbs could be sold to foreigners for enormous profits. Needless to say, the speculation prices were not a true reflection of the flowers’ worth. So the only thing that could happen, happened.

Prices began to fall and fall and fall. In fact, this whole episode could be considered one of the earliest market crashes recorded with a resultant government bailout. You read that correctly. The Dutch government stepped in with a price floor that would honor contracts at 10% of their value, but nothing helped. Prices continued to fall until the crash was complete.

Nobody knows for certain, but from start to finish 1634 to 1637, peak to bottom, it was said that at its peak you could trade a single bulb for an entire estate and at its bottom you could trade a single bulb for a tomato.*

That was almost 400 years ago and to this day, if you visit Holland, you can still see the tulip market in downtown Amsterdam. Just don’t pay anything more than the normal price for the tulips.

So what’s this historical story have to do with today’s markets? Different things and different thinking affect the markets just as they did 400 years ago. Remember the tech bubble of the late 90s that drove the NASDAQ up to 4,600 points? It seemed like anyone could invest and make money. It clouded judgments. I had a potential client (true story) tell me that in the previous year he had made more money investing in the market than he did in salary. He wondered if he should quit and do investing full time. I said I didn’t think that was a good idea. He disagreed but he didn’t quit his job. When the tech bubble burst around the turn of the century, it took the NASDAQ 14 years to come back.

The housing bubble that burst in 2007 through 2009 is another example. Cheap money drove housing prices through the roof so to speak. Buying too much house with too much debt didn’t work out very well. We are still paying for that one in terms of lost investments, homes, bankruptcies, etc.

We’ve learned some lessons and systems have been put in place to help, but strong emotions, whether positive or negative are not the best reactions. I thought the above referenced story was interesting because it happened in another time and place and yet it still rings true today. Humans are still human. In that respect, nothing has changed and history is still fun. It’s nice to know where we’ve been.

If you really want to be happy, nobody can stop you.

News Market Crash Tulips NASDAQ Tech Bubble Housing Bubble Holland
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    01:00PM — 02:00PM

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  • The Holmstad Helping Hearts

    10/05/2017
    01:30PM — 02:30PM

    Findings from an Alzheimer's Association survey released in June 2017 show that while people over...


  • Million Dollar Quartet

    10/05/2017
    01:30PM

    Paramount Theatre's rollicking 2017-18 Broadway Series opener is Million Dollar Quartet, the wild...


  • A cooperative program between the Town and Country Library and the Kane County Genealogical Society.


  • First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is thrilled to present the Worl...


  • First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is thrilled to present the Worl...


  • Comedy at Zanies

    10/05/2017
    08:00PM

    See nationally known comics along with some of the country’s hottest new talents for a night full...


  • Breakfast for a Cause

    10/06/2017
    07:30AM — 09:00AM

    Please join us for breakfast, fellowship and our program: Moving Up From Poverty: Three Steps Fo...


  • Moms Connect

    10/06/2017
    09:00AM — 10:15AM

    St. John Lutheran Church at 7214 South Cass Avenue in Darien, IL will sponsor a new Bible-based s...


  • Sculpture on the Prairie

    10/06/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Fine Line Creative Arts Center is proud to annouce it's first Sculpture on the Prarie exhibit. E...


  • Story Time at Creek Bend Nature Center

    10/06/2017
    10:30AM — 11:00AM

    Treat your child to Story Times at Creek Bend Nature Center. This popular program series is for c...


  • Million Dollar Quartet

    10/06/2017
    01:30PM

    Paramount Theatre's rollicking 2017-18 Broadway Series opener is Million Dollar Quartet, the wild...


  • FREE Monthly Family Story Time

    10/06/2017
    05:30PM — 06:30AM

    Join us for this month's free Story Time featuring a spring theme. Spots are filling up quickly. ...


  • Dr. Evil and the Basket of Kittens

    10/06/2017
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    This darkly funny farce pits the eternal battle of pure evil against innocent fuzzy goodness. Dr....


  • First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is thrilled to present the Worl...


  • First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is thrilled to present the Worl...


  • I Love A Piano

    10/06/2017
    07:30PM — 09:30PM

    ESO favorites Rich Ridenour, piano and Brandon Ridenour, trumpet, will bring the house down with ...


  • Comedy at Zanies

    10/06/2017
    08:00PM

    See nationally known comics along with some of the country’s hottest new talents for a night full...


  • Live Entertainment: DJ

    10/06/2017
    09:00PM — 11:55PM

    Join us on historic Bourbon Street in Jambalaya at Pheasant Run Resort every Friday for live ente...


  • Women's Fellowship Breakfast

    10/07/2017
    09:00AM — 11:00AM

    St. John Lutheran Church at 7214 South Cass Avenue in Darien, IL will host a Women’s Fellowship B...


  • Sculpture on the Prairie

    10/07/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Fine Line Creative Arts Center is proud to annouce it's first Sculpture on the Prarie exhibit. E...


  • Million Dollar Quartet

    10/07/2017
    01:30PM

    Paramount Theatre's rollicking 2017-18 Broadway Series opener is Million Dollar Quartet, the wild...


  • Dr. Evil and the Basket of Kittens

    10/07/2017
    03:00PM — 05:00PM

    This darkly funny farce pits the eternal battle of pure evil against innocent fuzzy goodness. Dr....


  • Dr. Evil and the Basket of Kittens

    10/07/2017
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    This darkly funny farce pits the eternal battle of pure evil against innocent fuzzy goodness. Dr....


  • DANIEL NAHMOD IN CONCERT

    10/07/2017
    07:00PM — 10:00PM

    Saturday, October 7th, 7pm. Unity of Fox Valley presents award-winning singer/songwriter and prod...


  • First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is thrilled to present the Worl...


  • First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is thrilled to present the Worl...


  • Comedy at Zanies

    10/07/2017
    07:30PM

    See nationally known comics along with some of the country’s hottest new talents for a night full...


  • I Love A Piano

    10/07/2017
    07:30PM — 09:30PM

    ESO favorites Rich Ridenour, piano and Brandon Ridenour, trumpet, will bring the house down with ...


  • Live Music

    10/07/2017
    09:00PM — 11:55PM

    Join us on historic Bourbon Street in Jambalaya at Pheasant Run Resort for live bands every Satur...


  • Comedy at Zanies

    10/07/2017
    09:45PM

    See nationally known comics along with some of the country’s hottest new talents for a night full...


  • Bourbon Street Brunch

    10/08/2017
    09:00AM — 01:00PM

    Join us on historic Boubon Street every Sunday for a unique brunch buffet! Enjoy all your favorit...


  • Fabyan Villa Museum & Japanese Garden open

    10/08/2017
    01:00PM — 04:30PM

    The Fabyan Villa Museum and Japanese Garden will return to a public hours schedule starting on Su...


  • Million Dollar Quartet

    10/08/2017
    01:30PM

    Paramount Theatre's rollicking 2017-18 Broadway Series opener is Million Dollar Quartet, the wild...


  • I Love A Piano

    10/08/2017
    02:30PM — 04:30PM

    ESO favorites Rich Ridenour, piano and Brandon Ridenour, trumpet, will bring the house down with ...


  • Dr. Evil and the Basket of Kittens

    10/08/2017
    03:00PM — 05:00PM

    This darkly funny farce pits the eternal battle of pure evil against innocent fuzzy goodness. Dr....


  • First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is thrilled to present the Worl...


  • First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is thrilled to present the Worl...


  • Sculpture on the Prairie

    10/09/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Fine Line Creative Arts Center is proud to annouce it's first Sculpture on the Prarie exhibit. E...


  • Help an adult learn English

    10/09/2017
    06:30PM — 09:00PM

    Literacy Volunteers Fox Valley is hosting a tutor training workshop at the St. Charles Public Lib...


  • First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is thrilled to present the Worl...


  • First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is thrilled to present the Worl...


  • Tri-Cities Exchange Club Breakfast

    10/10/2017
    07:00AM — 08:00AM

    Every Tuesday morning, 7-8am, men and women meet for breakfast at Colonial Cafe on Randall Road, ...


  • Sculpture on the Prairie

    10/10/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Fine Line Creative Arts Center is proud to annouce it's first Sculpture on the Prarie exhibit. E...


  • Family Talk

    10/10/2017
    07:00PM — 09:30PM

    Finding an ancestor's town of origin can be exciting. Once this piece of information is found, on...


  • First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is thrilled to present the Worl...


  • First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is thrilled to present the Worl...


  • Wednesday Walking Club

    10/11/2017
    08:00AM — 09:00AM

    Wednesdays, April 5–October 25, 8–9 AM Free drop-in program for all ages Get fit the old-fashio...


  • Wednesday Walking Club

    10/11/2017
    08:00AM — 09:00AM

    Wednesdays, April 5–October 25, 8–9 AM Free drop-in program for all ages Get fit the old-fashio...


  • Sculpture on the Prairie

    10/11/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Fine Line Creative Arts Center is proud to annouce it's first Sculpture on the Prarie exhibit. E...


  • Fabyan Villa Museum & Japanese Garden open

    10/11/2017
    01:00PM — 04:30PM

    The Fabyan Villa Museum and Japanese Garden will return to a public hours schedule starting on Su...


  • Million Dollar Quartet

    10/11/2017
    01:30PM

    Paramount Theatre's rollicking 2017-18 Broadway Series opener is Million Dollar Quartet, the wild...


  • First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is thrilled to present the Worl...


  • First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is thrilled to present the Worl...


  • Nature Tykes (for 3 year olds)

    10/12/2017
    09:30AM — 10:30AM

    In this program, for 3-year olds and their parents, grandparents or guardians, we’ll explore the ...


  • Sculpture on the Prairie

    10/12/2017
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Fine Line Creative Arts Center is proud to annouce it's first Sculpture on the Prarie exhibit. E...


  • Little Naturalists

    10/12/2017
    01:00PM — 02:00PM

    In this hour-long program for 4-5-year olds, children will discover the wonders of nature through...


  • Million Dollar Quartet

    10/12/2017
    01:30PM

    Paramount Theatre's rollicking 2017-18 Broadway Series opener is Million Dollar Quartet, the wild...


  • NUHS Student for a Day (AOM/BS)

    10/12/2017
    03:00PM — 07:00PM

    The Student for a Day program provides an opportunity to understand student life at National Univ...


  • First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is thrilled to present the Worl...


  • First Folio Theatre (Mayslake Peabody Estate, 31st St. & Rt. 83.) is thrilled to present the Worl...


  • Comedy at Zanies

    10/12/2017
    08:00PM

    See nationally known comics along with some of the country’s hottest new talents for a night full...


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