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During the 16 years between 1952 and 1968, the Dow Jones Industrial Average quadrupled. Standing at 250 during 1952, the Dow increased by 50 percent in less than 20 months, moving above 380.33 on Nov. 23, 1954. It was a significant milestone, marking the first time in 25 years that the Dow had reached its 1929 high. Continue Reading Perhaps if prosperity returns, we’ll appreciate it more

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Many decades ago, as a college junior, I contemplated a career in the banking industry.
My knowledge of banking was roughly comparable to, say, Sarah Palin’s knowledge of foreign policy. I knew that bankers wore suits, that they went to the office every day and that there was money involved. Continue Reading Financial system could learn a lot from some enterprising Nigerians

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On Nov. 4, Democrats in Colorado Springs — and, I guess, everywhere in America — were partying as if it were 1964, leaving Republicans the dazed and demoralized denizens of a new political dystopia.
Forty-four years after another Arizona Republican was crushed by his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama completed his unlikely ascent to the presidency.
And how unlikely was it? Continue Reading Are we witnessing long-term change, or just a brief flash?

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So who won the election?
Barack Obama became president-elect and John McCain got the consolation prize — a seat in the U.S. Senate! And thousands of other pols and wannabe-pols spent Tuesday night celebrating or mourning.
But there were other winners and losers, non-politicians who either profited mightily or slunk away broke and disgraced. And here are some of them — shining examples of American entrepreneurship, and equally shining examples of “what were they thinking?” Continue Reading Sifting through the ‘other’ election winners and losers of 2008

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<em>“I view derivatives as time bombs, both for the parties that deal in them and the economic system.”
Warren Buffett, letter to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway, 2004.</em>
During 1997, Blythe Masters, a 34-year-old British-born Cambridge graduate, whose degree is in mathematics, conceived and created a new financial product at J.P. Morgan in New York. It was designed to separate the default risk on loans from the loans themselves. Continue Reading Just in case you really do want to know who got us into this mess

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Earlier this month, the Associated Press distributed a story about the last breeding pair of Yangtze giant soft-shell turtles.
“She’s around 80 years old. He’s 100. Breathless scientists watched as the world’s most endangered turtles successfully mated. But the attempt to breed the species’ last known female with the last known male in China has failed because the eggs didn’t hatch …. The elderly pair can try again next year, part of a delicate attempt to keep the species alive.” Continue Reading Fourth Estate could learn a lot from a couple over-the-hill turtles (20441)

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As the election approaches, it seems more and more likely that Barack Obama will become the 44th president of the United States.
He will assume the office during a time of social and economic upheaval that has few parallels in American history. While the nation is not in grave peril, its future depends, more than at any time since 1932, upon wise, thoughtful and courageous leadership. Continue Reading We could be on the precipice of a new political reality

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The world crisis, which has seen the arcane financial system that underpinned a globalized economy disintegrate, is far from over. Think of the Panic of 1907, the Depression of the 1930s and the economic “dead zone” of the 1970s — events with repercussions that eventually affected all businesses, not just Wall Street. Continue Reading Hindsight: perhaps we really did live too well too long

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A few years back, unwinding a real estate deal gone bad, I called up my then-partner to give him the bad news: to get rid of the junk property we’d foolishly bought, we’d have to bring several thousand bucks to the closing table.
There was a long silence.
Then he said: “You know, John, sometimes you pay tuition and you didn’t even know you were going to school.”
Last month, I paid one of those “tuition” bills. Continue Reading We could use a little more protecting and serving

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Here are some lessons from last week’s epochal financial meltdown/bailout.
On the good side, we learned that the federal government can be powerful and decisive at a time of real crisis. Whatever you might think about the rescue plan drafted on the fly by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, it almost certainly will forestall an economic disaster of unparalleled scale. Continue Reading Hopefully we’ve learned something from staring into the abyss

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