Before there was Pets.com and the dot-com bubble burst there was an even stranger financial boom and bust centered around the trading of tulips in mid-17th century Holland. As the flowers, especially rare breeds, became popular the market for the Tulip bulbs increased dramatically with contracts being traded on the future growth of flowers that were, essentially, futures. The prices became insane and, eventually, everyone wanted to get into the Tulip market. Then a group of traders at an auction decided it wasn't worth paying a trunk full of guilders for a few flowers. Quickly, panic spread across the market causing it to collapse. Despite this insane market failure the Dutch economy survived without too much in the way of disruption. Why? One reason is the Amsterdam Stock Exchange wouldn't engage in the Tulip market because it was insane and demonstrated irrational exuberance (the good old days). In the ongoing Carpocalypse we can debate the rationality and irrationality of certain auto industry functions, such as the threatened UAW Job Bank, but nothing beats an Ash78 analogy.
It's like a disgusting game of musical chairs where there are three people—a current employee, a manager, and a retiree—and the retiree is already sitting down in the only chair while the music's still playing.
What song are the playing?
[For More Check Out Tulipomania, Photo OLAF KRAAK/AFP/Getty Images]