Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Bubble Hall of Fame

An article in Slate lists some of history's all-time worst "bubble-blowers" -- people who help create unsustainable economic bubbles through their relentless promotion, over-optimism, and snake-oil salesmanship. Upon seeing the article, my first thought was, I bet I know at least one person who will definitely make the list. I was right:

The Internet

George Gilder (1939-present)

Noteworthy bubble-blowing role: Newsletter writer and futurist foresaw a world of infinite wealth because of infinite bandwidth. Book published in 2000 promoted soon-to-be-worthless stocks like WorldCom and Global Crossing.

Catchphrase: "The investor who never acts until the financials affirm his choice is doomed to mediocrity by trust in spurious rationality."

Bonus catchphrase: Of WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers, he said: "He is a hero of the dimensions of Rockefeller and Milken."

Ignominious end/debunking: Dot-com wipeout nearly forced him into bankruptcy (subscription required), according to the Wall Street Journal. Still touting stocks and trying to undermine Darwin.