Showing posts with label Irrational Exuberance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Irrational Exuberance. Show all posts

January 6, 2019

From Tulips to Cryptocurrency

There always seem to be another mania. 

From the Tulips Mania in 1637, when a tulip went for more than 10x what a skilled workman earned in an entire year!

To Cryptocurrency in 2018, which is down about 80% from its $20,000 peak losing $700,000,000,000. 

In between, we had the gold rush, the great depression, the tech/dot-com bubble, and the housing/mortgage crisis, and many more I am sure. 

There seems to always be something for people to get excited about in an "irrational exuberance" type of way, as former Federal Reserve Chair, Alan Greenspan put it.

Is it boredom, big dreams, unadulterated greed, the desire to "get rich quick" and easy, the belief that you've discovered the Holy Grail or is it just people being stupid. 

Either way, we have a way of getting ourselves in trouble, some "losing their shirts."

Not sure who said it, but there isn't an easy fix to your life. 

There are small and big problems, and then there is you trying to fix them (with G-d's help). 

As to bitcoins and tulips, they ain't worth what you think they are. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal with photos from Pixabay). 
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June 7, 2018

That's Some Pricey Garbage Art


So we stopped in this gallery in Palm Beach.

And there lay this piece of "art".

Well, I'm not sure--is this really art?

The proprietor explained that this is made up of scrap pieces of metal from the garbage dump like from old discarded automobiles. 

The artist welded the garbage together, painted it, and voila there it is--some very pricey art. 

Who pricey you ask.

Take a guess.

No really. 

No, you're too low. 

Try again. 

No, you're still too low.

Not even in the ballpark. 

Okay, I'll tell you, but only because you asked so nicely.

It starts with a 95.  

No, not $9,500.

No, not $95,000 either. 

That's right $950,000!!!

All this "art" can be yours if the price is right. 

Can anyone say "irrational exuberance" again? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 2, 2018

Agile Doesn't Mean Endless

So Agile development is great for iteratively working closely with customers to develop and refine information systems that are useful to them and the organization.

But even in Agile, there is a beginning and an end to the sprint planning and project management.

Taking Agile to somehow mean endless in terms of adding more and more requirements or scope creep is not what is intended. 

Agile has to be bound by common sense somewhere between what is needed for a minimally viable product (MVP) and what is achievable with the designated resources, objective, and scope. 

Good project managers always have to be sound arbiters and be willing to ask the tough questions and determine if something is truly a requirement or simply a wish list item that is out of scope (but of course, could perhaps make it in for future enhancements).

We need to understand the difference between genuine customer service and irrational project exuberance. 

It's not a dangerous project bubble we want to create that can and will get busted, but rather a successful project that is delivered for our customers that help them do their jobs better, faster, and cheaper.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 17, 2015

From Stability Comes Instability

I remember hearing the phrase (not sure from where), "everything and the opposite."

I think it refers to how within each thing in life are elements of the exact contrary and opposing force. 

Similar to the interactions of ying and yang, the world is an interplay of opposites--males and females, black and white, fire and water, ebb and flow, good and bad, optimism and pessimism, and so on. 

Everything has a point and it's counterpoint.

It was interesting to me to see this concept expressed in terms of the financial markets (Wall Street Journal), where bull and bear contend in terms of our finances.

But what was even more fascinating was the notion from the economist, Hyman Minsky, who noted that the very dynamic between stability and instability was inherent within itself.

So for example, Minsky posits that a stable economic market leads to it's very opposite, instability.

This happens because stability "leads to optimism, optimism leads to excessive risk-taking, and excessive risk-taking leads to instability" (and I imagine this works in reverse as well with instability-pessimism, retrenchment and limiting risk to stability once again).

Thus, success and hubris breeds failure, and similarly failure and repetitive trial and error/hard work results in success.

It is the interflow between ying and yang, the cycle of life, life and death (and rebirth), the seasons come and go, boom and bust, and ever other swinging of the pendulum being polar opposites that we experience. 

The article in the Journal is called "Don't Fear The Bear Market," I suppose because we can take comfort that what follows the bear is another bull. 

But the title sort of minimizes the corollary--Don't (overly) rejoice in the bull--because you know what comes next.

Go cautiously and humbly through life's swings.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 20, 2014

2014 The Bad News Goes On

What a 2014 it's been as the world continues it's descent into madness.  

If Ebola, the War with Hamas in Gaza, the shoot down of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 killing 298 including 80 children and 15 crew, the intransigence of Iran on Nuclear Weapons, employment still near a 30-year low, the National Debt hitting over $18 trillion (and growing $2.43 billion a day!) and the suicide of comedian, Robin Williams wasn't enough...

- Criminal Records: 1 in 3 adult Americans (i.e. 80 million people) now have a criminal record...hmm, if the average family has around 2.5 people then just about 1 person per household has a criminal record. Are you starting to look around you now?


- Economy: Uber, yes, it's a online "ride-sharing" (i.e. taxi) service, but after it's recent IPO, Uber is worth over $41 billion dollars (more than Delta, Charles Schwab, Salesforce.com, and Kraft Foods). Someone's getting taken for a ride. Is this even surprising considering the S&P is priced over 27 times average 10-year earnings (while the historical average is only 16), the result of pumping the economy with short term easy money policies.  


- Cyber Attacks: After a blithering cyber attack by North Korea, Sony withdraws the release of the movie, The Interview, surrendering to cyber terror, and putting us all at greater risk in the future because cyber crime does pay!


- Islamic Terrorism: While ISIS advances in Syria and Iraq, 132 school children (mostly ages 6-18) plus 9 adults massacred by the Taliban this week in Peshawar, many shot in the head and others lit on fire with gasoline and burnt to death so they are unrecognizable. This only 9 months after the April kidnapping by Boko Haram of more than 280 schoolgirls in Nigeria, which was repeated this week with the kidnapping of another 185 woman and children.


- Russian Militarism: The Great Bear is back with a vengeance as Putin continues driving Russian nationalism and buildup of advanced weapons, including WMD (e.g. nukes), aircraft, submarines, and ICBMs to counter alleged "Western Aggression." And despite, the rubbles' massive decline, Putin promises an economic comeback within 2 years--he'll wait out the West and hold Crimea hostage and spoil it for everything it's worth


So where are we going next--more hell on Earth or at some point a turnaround towards heaven again?   


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 27, 2008

Fear, Greed, and Enterprise Architecture

Just wanted to thank Jonas Lamis for posting my guest blog, "Fear, Greed, and Enterprise Architecture," on the Architecture & Governance Magazine site.

I think A&G is a great magazine -- down-to-earth and straightforward views on a range of important topics to CIOs, enterprise architects, and other IT professionals.

Kudos to Jonas and his team!
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April 18, 2008

Fear, Greed and Enterprise Architecture

Fear and greed can have a huge influence on our decision making processes. Rather than making rational, informed decisions, we are driven by fear and greed and herd mentality to do stupid things.

Irrational decisions driven by fear and greed are the antithesis of rational, well-thought out decisions driven by enterprise architecture planning and governance.

In an interview with Fortune Magazine 28 April 2008 (and on a day of teaching students from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business), Warren Buffet stated: “when people panic, when fear takes over, or when greed takes over, people react just as irrationally as they have in the past.”

Similarly, in The Wall Street Journal 18 April 2008, an MIT financial economist, Andrew Lo, stated: “You have to understand the mechanism of how fear and greed impact market decisions.”

Fear and greed are affected by our endocrine system. According to Andrew Lo, “for better or for worse, biochemistry makes money go to our heads. ‘We need to understand that physiological aspects of brain behavior really impact financial decisions.”

Testosterone is the hormone that makes us irrationally exuberant, confident and greedy, and another hormone, cortisol, causes us to feel fear and gloom.

Do these hormones and the resulting emotions we feel impact our decisions and behavior?

Your bet!

“Among males and females, testosterone is a natural component in the chemistry of competition…it enhances persistence, fearlessness, and a willingness to take risks. Among athletes it rises in victory, and falls in defeat. “

Endocrinologists have identified “the ‘winners’ effect,’ in which successive victories boost levels of testosterone higher and higher, until the winner is drunk with success—so overconfident that he can no longer think clearly, assess risk properly or make sound decisions.” On the opposite side of the spectrum, “too much cortisol, secreted in response to stress, might in turn make them overly shy of risk.”

In the face of fear and greed, decision making is impaired and becomes irrational. Decisions are no longer driven by the facts on the ground or by judicious planning or sound governance that comes with disciplines like enterprise architecture. Instead, people become slaves to their hormones and emotional effects.

In Fortune Magazine, Warren Buffet warned against falling into the fear/greed trap of decision making. He stated: “I always say you should get greedy when other are fearful and fearful when others are greedy. But that’s too much to expect. Of course [at a minimum] you shouldn’t get greedy when others get greedy and fearful when others get fearful.”

Rather than optimizing decision making, our fears and greed destabilize our ability to think clearly and rationally. When this happens, we need to rely more than ever on our enterprise architecture target and plans and on our governance processes, so that we stay focused on our goals and path to them and not be sidetracked by, as Alan Greenspan stated, “irrational exuberance” or irrational fears.


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