Like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the current international monetary crisis—bank failures and a collapse of markets worldwide—was not sufficiently predictable to preempt with defensive action. One would think that history's experiences with sudden breakdowns in global economics would have taught the modern world enough lessons to assure that economic intelligence would have tightened the reins of investors and speculators over the last decade of runaway optimism. But history has never been a good teacher—better said, people have rarely been good students of history's lessons in cause and effect. Still, it makes sense, as with this essay, that we look back on such financial follies of the past, as epitomized by Holland's tulipmania, and take comfort in finding that our follies are just enough different from historical ones to at least claim them as our very own.

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