Chapter 2: The Common Denominators
Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone. John Maynard Keynes
…built into the speculative episode is the euphoria, the mass escape from reality, that excludes any serious contemplation of the true nature of what is taking place.
Contributing to and supporting this euphoria are two further factors little noted in our time or in past times. The first is the extreme brevity of the financial memory. In consequence, financial disaster is quickly forgotten. In further consequence, when the same or closely similar circumstances occur again, sometimes in only la few years, they are hailed by a new, often youthful, and always supremely self-confident generation as a brilliantly innovative discovery in the financial and larger economic world. There can be few fields of human endeavor in which history counts for so little as in the world of finance. Past experience, to the extent that it is part of memory at all, is dismissed as the primitive refuge of those who do not have the insight to appreciate the incredible wonders of the present.
The second factor contributing to speculative euphoria and programmed collapse is the specious association of money and intelligence. Mention of this is not a formula for eliciting reputable applause, but, alas, it must be accepted, for acceptance is also highly useful, a major protection against personal or institutional disaster.
— A Short History of Financial Euphoria, John Kenneth Galbraith, Viking, 1990, p. 12-3.