Thursday, April 25

National panics

National panics are fascinating phenomena. When princess Diana died, the entire country went into a kind of soppy meltdown like pukeworthy. Every country goes through this kind of scare son. It can be because of celebrities or war or sickness or terrorism or sports or whatever. Multiple causes but as I've told you many times, never follow the crowd. Stay outside or on the outskirts. Mentally and physically. Be not the sheep but the sheepdog. Or the farmer if you will. Or better still the lamb meat buyer. If you excuse me stretching the point. Then you can be safe and if lucky profit :) all the time having the benefit of laughing at these headless chickens.

by the way, you should read this book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. Its free, published in 1841. I was given this book when I first started trading in London. Its required reading for all traders and participants in the financial markets. It talks about how populations panic. Brilliant stuff. Here’s a free copy.



SMH Blog

[Cross-posted at Airminded.]

I learned something new from an article in the March 2013 issue of History Today:

Exactly half a century ago, in the spring of 1963, Israel was suddenly gripped by a curious mass panic. Sensational newspaper reports and radio announcements claimed that the country was threatened by enemy ‘atom bombs’, ‘fatal microbes’, ‘poison gases’, ‘death rays’ and a ‘cobalt warhead’ that could ‘scatter radioactive particles over large areas’. Within hours, opinion in the entire country had been ignited. Parliamentary debates, everyday conversations, even songs and poems were all preoccupied obsessively with the same theme — that Israel was confronted by the imminent threat of another Holocaust, less than two decades after the first.

The source of this supposedly dire foreign menace was not Iran, nor the Soviet Union, although superpower tension at this stage in the Cold War was certainly intense. The perceived threat instead emanated from Egypt, which over the past decade had been led by the supremely charismatic and populist military officer, 44-year-old President Gamal Abdul [sic] Nasser.

Several months before, in the early hours of July 21st, 1962 Nasser had stunned the world by successfully test-firing a number of rockets. Specially-invited contingents of foreign journalists and cameramen had been driven to a remote spot deep in the Egyptian desert, not far from the central Cairo-Alexandria highway. They watched as a massive explosion shook the ground and a white missile lifted itself from a camouflaged position, a short distance in front of them. As one American correspondent wrote: ‘It pierced a long, white cloud and later, in plain view, slowly arched to the north towards the Mediterranean.’ Over the next few hours three more launches were carried out in quick succession before the journalists returned home, amid scenes of jubilation from ecstatic crowds. The Egyptian public had heard the news when a special announcement, broadcast on a national public holiday, announced on government radio that Egypt had ‘entered the missile age’.

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