This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.
—T. S. Eliot
This is the way the world ends, not with a whim but a banker.
—Jazz musician Paul Desmond
Financial bubbles—like soap bubbles—have their own predictable features. They share a common disturbed architecture with easily identifiable, if unstable, contours. Their origins are often murky, but a rise in price attracts the interest of investors who push prices still higher, creating the belief that price can only go up and up, until they eventually reach unsustainable levels culminating in a pop and a messy aftermath with a lot of financial debris scattered on the ground.
Financial bubbles ...