At business school, I was a notable bear in a classroom full of bulls--I had more than one classmate who took out $100,000 in loans to pay for their education because they couldn't bear to sell any of the Webvan stock they'd so painstakingly accumulated. In the winter of 2001, Austan Goolsbee asked the class I was taking on technology strategy to predict where the NASDAQ would be at the end of the term. My prediction of 1724 was over a hundred points lower than the rest of the class. Unfortunately for me, the class ended too soon; had it lasted another month, I'd have hit it nearly on the nose.
Naturally, when the market crashed, and kept crashing, I took a certain amount of satisfaction in being proven right, and also, in seeing a real, genuine stock market crash. I was (and remain) a big fan of John Kenneth Galbraith's Great Crash of 1929, and it was fascinating to see what such a legendary episode firsthand.
It was therefore only right and just that the associated contraction in the economy, and the market for newly-minted MBAs, should have sucked me into an eighteen-month vortex of unemployment. Or rather, unemployment--I managed to scrape enough work together to get by. But I never knew where my next paycheck was coming from. I was one of the most deserving people in America to suffer the results of the busting bubble.
Of course it is true that if you have spent any significant time studying economic crises, including our own past ones, you cannot help but have a little intellectual thrill of recognition at understanding emotionally a phenomenon that you previously only grasped intellectually--"So this is what it felt like!" But for an adult, it's the same kind of thrill that you get when you finally age enough to grasp the sadness behind all those essays about lost youth. You don't root for cancer to spread just because it gives you a deeper perspective on Keats.
I suspect that this is a lesson that Chadwick Martin will eventually learn in some currently unexpected way, which is why I can't get as irritated by this piece of silliness as some of the people who wrote me. Young people are excited by epic events, which is lucky for us older and wiser heads, or else who would volunteer to go abroad and get shot at? Reality will strip the glee away soon enough, along with his hair and his ability to consume vast quantities of liquor.
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