December 29, 2011

The Paul Singer stamp swindle

Posted in Media · 7 comments ·

“Nothing undermines your financial judgement more than the sight of your neighbour getting rich”

This programme, in Irish, about the Paul Singer stamp swindle in Dun Laoghaire of the 1950s shows that we never learn.

View the programme here.

  1. Morning,

    This documentary is well worth a gander because it show us that we never really learn. Nice to do it in Irish also. One of my resolutions this year is to speak a bit more Irish, any tips, ideas?



  2. Dorothy Jones

    Conradh na Gaeilge will advise on conversation groups. Gealtalk is a good website with plenty of links.
    There is an Irish Speakers Meetup Group in Dublin also.
    But it may be better to just start up your own gig locally. We did about 10 years ago, and got a Múinteoir in on occasion to keep us on the straight and narrow.
    There were 6 of us in an Fáinne Meirgeach.
    …The organisation was ‘quietly disbanded’ in 1999…….!

  3. Gege Le Beau

    Funny, had a similar idea about Irish, wonder if we go back to our roots in time of crisis? Also trying to improve my German which may come in handy in the Europe about to emerge unless people like Helmet Schmidt and the SPD can reel in the German political establishment.

    People getting involved in schemes, boom/bust cycles is as old as the stones, and yes, people without any knowledge of economic or financial history will continually walk into it.

    Two books I recommend:

    On the Psychology of Military Incompetence by Norman F. Dixon.


    Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds is a history of popular folly by Scottish journalist Charles Mackay, first published in 1841

    In the first book, Nixon finds the following characteristics emerge which can be equally applied to our politicians, bankers or what is generally referred to as the ‘establishment’ or the ‘power elite’:

    - A fundamental conservatism and clinging to outworn tradition, as well as an inability to profit from past experience.

    - A tendency to reject, suppress or ignore information which is unpalatable or conflicts with pre-conceptions.

    - A tendency to under-estimate the enemy and over-estimate the capabilities of one ’ s own side.

    - An undue readiness to find scapegoats and suppress news about military setbacks.

    - A predilection for frontal assaults and the belief in brute force rather than the use of surprises or ruses.

    - Indecisiveness and a general abdication from the role of a leader.

    - A failure to exploit a situation due to the lack of aggressiveness.

    The second book has a nice chapter on ‘Tulipmania’ which is probably one of the great examples of collective folly, but the more I have looked into this topic, the more I have discovered that almost every country in the world, sometimes more than once has done what we did during the so called boom, and from what I see of bank practices, we are shaping up to do it all over again once the ‘collective memory’, starts to decline.

    The banks learned one lesson from the crisis they played an enormously role in creating: they will be bailed out by the government at the expense of the citizen, so where is the incentive not to do what they have done?

    One thing is for certain, never trust a politician.

    Gordon Brown: The End of Boom and Bust

    Happy 2012, it is sure to be an interesting year.

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