The Dot-Com Crash, 10 Years On

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Our friends over at Newsdesk.org pointed out to Mother Jones that March 10, 2000, marked the start of the dot-com crash. That’s the day the tech-rich Nasdaq stock index reached its peaked, fueled by speculation in the values of them thar new-fangled Interweb-based companies. (Remember the Pets.com sock puppet Super Bowl commercial? I do, fondly. Happy anniversary!) But it turns out those values were overvalued, and an HTML house of cards tumbled, dragging down the economy with it. Nasdaq closed yesterday down about 54 percent from its high a decade ago.

You’d think that would have been a fabulous cautionary tale far future stock market speculators in oh, say, securitized mortgages and credit swaps. But popular US economic discourse has actually slid backward since then: Nowadays, even the most earnest advocates for financial regulation—or even a little circumspection—are derided as Cassandras at best, or at worst, socialists who reject the free market.

Back in 1996, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan—who had his part to play in both the dot-com and subprime bubbles—warned America to guard against its own economic hubris, “when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions…” The economist Robert Shiller made that phrase—irrational exuberance—the title of a 2000 book, in which he argued that the Internet-addled stock market was dangerously overvalued. He even put out a revised edition in 2005, warning of a similar phenomenon in the white-hot housing market.

Not that it mattered.

So until our divided nation agrees that you can have a democratic free market with a sane governor on its top speed, let’s drink a 40 to the memory of financial bubbles past—and future. And here’s hoping the next generation of working stiffs with monied dreams won’t ever have to tell their coworkers they’re “goin’ to Vegas.”

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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