Friday 21 May 2021

Modern Day Tulips


Its one thing to read about past market manias and bubbles, its another thing altogether when one is in our midst...

I think I'll put it in writing so that I can either pat myself on the back, or give myself a royal poke in 10 years' time!

Let's refresh the more famous "tulip" manias from the past:

1.  Tulip mania in the Netherlands 1636-1637.  (The grandaddy - hence the title of this post) 

2.  South Sea bubble of 1720 in London. (Even Sir Isaac Newton got caught and lost money)

3.  Japan bubble in real estate and stocks 1985-1989. (Can't breakeven still after 30 years)

4.  Dotcom bubble of 2000 in US. (OK, broke even after 20 years if bought at the top)

5.  Subprime and Lehman Brother crisis of 2008. (Do with have more debts today than then?)      

Old fogeys do old fogeys thing. 

Youths should do things youths do.

In fact, even though I wouldn't want to capitulate and touch this modern day "tulip", I am perfectly OK with youths choosing it as their "poison" of choice. 

Better this than to voluntarily contribute to CPF when you are youth!

I mean we are only young once. Even if youths lose everything, how much can they lose?

Just as long they are those "lucky" or "wise" ones who got out near the top, like those precious few who got out fabulously rich in the previous manias and bubbles I mentioned. 

The many lost so the few can get rich. (Investing/trading is not socialism or communism)

When the white men first came to Africa, they got the bible; the Africans got the land.

Soon after, the white men got the land;, the Africans got the bible.

Even if youths got the bible when the dust settled, there's always CPF. 

If we can't Earn More, there's always Save More. 

The quicker we discover who we are the better!

I'm dumb. I only know the "crash got sound" way to discover myself.

Its sad when youth is a beautiful goose, but goes through all his life thinking he's the ugly duckling...

Its equally sad when youth is a penguin, but tries to soar in the air like other birds who can fly... 



  1. This wild ride around the clock, many can go to bed with sweet millionaire dream or nightmare and then wake up smiling or bigger shock!

    1. CW,

      The plus side is once youths get used to the crazy wild volatility of this "tulip" asset class, when they start to deploy their REALISED winnings into more "main stream" asset classes once they themselves have become old fogeys, everything else will become "easy"!

      But of course, not anyone and everyone will make it to old fogey status:

      Sea Turtles

  2. SMOL,

    Good to see your new blog post. Seems like you are ok after the 2nd vaccination jab :)

    For something to become a bubble, it must have some useful feature. So, bubbles are good in the sense that they accelerate adoption of something useful. Tech bubbles are especially good. Good in the social/economic aspect because technology have been primary drivers of human progress throughout history.

    As for the investment/speculative aspect of bubbles, if no edge, better not join in the game and stay out of harm's way.

    Spectators can also have fun watching by the side, as long as they don't lose control like Issac Newton because he cannot stand seeing other people make much more money than him.

    1. hyom,

      Glad I've finished my vaccinations. I'm "protected" ;)

      I'm not sure financial "bubbles" have any useful features...

      I mean even the man-in-the-street who never invested or took financial risks can be decimated in financial crash - lost his job or the bank he kept his savings went belly-up...

      Countries have been known to go bankrupt too. Well, there goes the "promised" pensions...

      What you are referring to is perhaps technology adoption ;)

      As an IT dinosaur, I'm rather slow when it comes to adoption of new flashing toys!

    2. SMOL,

      I deleted my original comment to ensure your readers aren't misled by my comment that bubbles are good, then join the bubble. You already caught the difference. The keyword is "financial". For the countless people who were hurt when bubbles burst, they will surely agree with you and hate me for saying bubbles have useful features. My idol Issac Newton will surely curse me from his grave.

      Some examples of social/economic gains from tech bubbles that's easy to see on hindsight;
      Dotcom bubble
      - Gave us the internet today. All of us are major beneficiaries as online consumers today.

      Transport infrastructure bubbles like railways and canals
      - Definitely useful. Supply chain expert like you knows much better than me

      Stock bubbles can also be good by helping great entrepreneurs raise money to tide through initial lose-money phase. Good example is Amazon.

      Biggest group of winners from a tech bubble will be our future generations as they will reap the productivity gains thanks to past tech bubbles, which unfortunately will hurt several members from the current generation. I myself was hurt when the tech bubble burst in the early 2000s.

    3. hyom,

      I get you 👌

      Although I would much prefer using other words like Technology:





      A bubble is where in the name of greed, we throw logic and common sense out the window.

      The word "bubble" has negative connotations...

      Unless it's a bubble bath! Then it's kinky!

  3. GIven the "tulip" manic of our times is a 100 baggers, I believed there are many who have gotten their capital back and perhaps more.

    Everyone knows it MIGHT turn the other way, but like you say,

    many are waiting for that finishing line, where they move to old fogey. Which investment give 100 baggers, or double and triple in /days/weeks/ months (depending on your entry time), although it might take much longer now.

    Well, everyone is screaming bubble when bitcoins is at 10k. Now after the horrible crash below 40 K it is still a muti-baggers.

    For the "no balls" people, like me, I prefer not to play musical chairs, but I have respect and admiration for those who "ventured" knowingly that they are playing musical chairs, believing the music will goes on forever or longer.

    But when more and more retailers get on board, and more and more alternatives of "tuplips" come about, I believe the risk is getting higher and higher.

    It should be a playground for those who are sitting on free tuplips. But who knows. The music might goes on and on, like the sirens songs

    1. Sillyinvestor,

      That's why reading about bubbles and manias is one thing, what we do - especially when we are not bei kambings - is another thing.

      It takes conviction.

      I would be disgusted with myself if I capitulate and jumped into something I've no edge or no clue whatsoever...

      I don't believe in faith-based investing. Wink.

    2. Hey Smol,
      so fast you reply, no weekend job?

    3. Working lah.

      So quiet I bored to death.

      Staff more than customers....

    4. Hee, hee. Figured out how to use smart phone to reply comments!

  4. Smol,

    You forgot about the Roaring Twenties! Just kidding! 😂

    Most bubbles occur after a runway of a few years of good economy, easy liquidity, and some kind of innovation. In the 1840s UK bubble it was railways; in the 1920s it was a whole plethora of cars, electricity, radio, telephone, skyscrapers; in the late-60s it was big computers & electronics & space-age, etc etc.

    Those that were formed as a result of financial innovation tended not to have much positive outcomes e.g. Tulip mania (futures), late-80s Jap boom, 2008 US property boom.

    Bubble or mania period is usually when a good idea (often before its time) meets too much money. It becomes a casino & crapshoot.

    In the 1910s there were over 2000 car companies making over 3000 brands of cars (steam, electric, petrol). In the 1980s there were hundreds of computer companies, as well as a dozen different major computer networks. Today there's only a handful of computer/smartphone makers & only 1 real network ... TCP/IP.

    So it's a lottery ticket if anyone adopts an investor mindset in a mania --- whether Bitcoin, Ethereum, Binance coin, USD stable coins become the next AOL or the next Microsoft or Apple is anyone's guess. And Apple went down -90% before going up thousands of percent. Being able & humble to know when (and how many times) to jump off (and on) the bandwagon is important in a bubble.

    Some fun quotes about forecasting:
    "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future." Yogi Berra

    "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." Thomas Watson, president of IBM, 1943

    "Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality within ten years." Alex Lewyt, president of Lewyt vacuum company, 1955

    1. Oh Smol,

      Just read your SERS experience interview. 👍

      No wonder somebody so nostalgic recently! 🤣

    2. Spur,

      Lol! I left out the Great Depression!

      And the Asian financial crisis of 97! That's the scary one. STI went below 1000 points!?

      And lots of graduates took quite some time to secure jobs more in line with their qualifications...

      Yup. Not new. It's just pure speculation masquerading as "investing".

      Remember the Myanmar plays?

      Water plays?

      Oil and gas plays?

      It's all about pump and dump.

      Just as long the story is sexy, there will be no shortage of bei kambings queuing up to the abbatoir....

    3. Spur,

      I'll put a link to that article tomorrow.

      What to do?

      I'm 54 this year.... Now all I can do is sing that Cats song, "Memories...”


  5. Hmm.. ok ok.
    I think your boss is worried more than bored

    1. Yup.

      Retail is bleeding again....

      Oh! We got vaccines, life can get back to normal!

      That's what we thought too!

      Now I waiting and hoping we don't have to lockdown retail again...

      The side effects we can already see. Especially those weird behaviours of some citizens during the circuit breaker...


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