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  • feedwordpress 08:01:43 on 2018/03/13 Permalink
    Tags: Bank Holiday, , , Depression, , , , speculation, ,   

    “Fortune’s bubbles rise and fall”*… 


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    Gordon Gekko talks tulips. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps / scottab140

    Right now, it’s Bitcoin. But in the past we’ve had dotcom stocks, the 1929 crash, 19th-century railways and the South Sea Bubble of 1720. All these were compared by contemporaries to “tulip mania,” the Dutch financial craze for tulip bulbs in the 1630s. Bitcoin, according some sceptics, is “tulip mania 2.0”.

    Why this lasting fixation on tulip mania? It certainly makes an exciting story, one that has become a byword for insanity in the markets. The same aspects of it are constantly repeated, whether by casual tweeters or in widely read economics textbooks by luminaries such as John Kenneth Galbraith.

    Tulip mania was irrational, the story goes. Tulip mania was a frenzy. Everyone in the Netherlands was involved, from chimney-sweeps to aristocrats. The same tulip bulb, or rather tulip future, was traded sometimes 10 times a day. No one wanted the bulbs, only the profits – it was a phenomenon of pure greed. Tulips were sold for crazy prices – the price of houses – and fortunes were won and lost. It was the foolishness of newcomers to the market that set off the crash in February 1637. Desperate bankrupts threw themselves in canals. The government finally stepped in and ceased the trade, but not before the economy of Holland was ruined.

    Yes, it makes an exciting story. The trouble is, most of it is untrue…

    Drawing on ten years of research for her new book, Tulip mania: Money, Honor and Knowledge in the Dutch Golden AgeAnne Goldgar tells a different story, one that’s just as illuminating, but very different: “Tulip mania: the classic story of a Dutch financial bubble is mostly wrong.”

    Like most trends, at the beginning it’s driven by fundamentals, at some point speculation takes over. What the wise man does in the beginning, the fool does in the end.”  The world went mad. What we learn from history is that people don’t learn from history.   — Warren Buffett, 2006 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting

    * John Greenleaf Whittier

    ###

    As we curb our enthusiasm, we might recall that it was on this date in 1933 that banks began to re-open after the “Bank Holiday” declared by the Roosevelt Administration to calm the market after bank runs had threatened the nation’s financial system during the Depression.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:00 on 2016/04/10 Permalink
    Tags: Allan Arbus, Depression, Diane Arbus, FSA, , killed, , ,   

    “Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial ‘we’”*… 


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    The photos look just like the most famous FSA images of Depression-era America. Laborers with weathered faces stare into the distance, sharecropping families stand on splintered porches and rag-clad children play in the dust.

    But each picture is haunted by a strange black void. It hangs in the sky like an inverted sun, it eclipses a child’s face, it hovers menacingly in the corner of a room.

    The black hole is the handiwork of Roy Stryker, the director of the FSA’s documentary photography program. He was responsible for hiring photographers such as Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Arthur Rothstein and Gordon Parks and dispatching them across the country to document the struggles of the rural poor.

    Stryker was a highly educated economist and provided his photographers with extensive research and information to prepare them for each assignment. He was determined to get the best work possible out of his employees — which also made him a bit of a tyrannical editor.

    When the photographers returned with their negatives, Stryker or his assistants would edit them ruthlessly. If a photo was not to his liking, he would not simply set it aside — he would puncture the negative with a hole puncher, “killing” it…

    More of this sad story– and more punched photos– at “1930s ‘Killed’ photographs.”  More on Stryker here.

    * Mark Twain

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    As we fill in the blanks, we might recall that it was on this date in 1941 that Diane Nemerov, the privileged daughter of department store owners, married Allan Arbus, a penniless City College student, in New York. Allan went to work in his in-laws’ store, but supplemented his income doing fashion photography– with Diane as his assistant, and later full partner.  But after the birth of her second child, Diane found herself drawn to less traditional and more candid subjects– children at first; later “the forbidden.”  While Allan continued to run the fashion studio, Diane became noted for photographs of marginalized people—dwarfs, giants, transgender people, nudists, circus performers—anyone whose “normality” was denied by the general public.

    “Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park,” New York City (1962)

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    “Eddie Carmel, Jewish Giant, taken at Home with His Parents in the Bronx,” New York, 1970

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    photo of Diane Arbus by Allan Arbus (a film test), c. 1949

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