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  • Foto van schrijverMarten Knevel

Wall Street Tulipomania

Bijgewerkt op: 26 mei 2019

At the edge of the Financial District in New York, we encountered the new shopping Centre, Brookfield Place. I was immediately fascinated by the glass facade of the entrance to the port side, lavishly decorated with tulips.

They made me think of the tulipomania, the speculative bubble around newly introduced tulip bulbs in the golden age. In a period of three years the price of this tulip reached record highs (similar to the price of a canal, or more than ten years' salary of a specialist) and in the same period the price collapsed completely. The tulipomania buyers and speculators were left destitute. This tulipomania has become a metaphor for contemporary economic bubbles like the Internet-bubble and Credit Crisis in recent years. These left large groups of people bankrupt.

Through Brookfield Place you enter the financial district with the new World Trade Center and Wall Street’s New York Stock Exchange. The tulips on the façade appear as a cautionary reminder for all workers in the district on the dangers of uncontrolled speculation. With ‘Wall Street Tulipomania’ I want to emphasize that function.

On a large terrace the workers from the Financial District and others are carelessly enjoying their free time and the weather. The negative effects of the last crisis seem to have overcome, but the tulips recall, in their paradoxical cheerfulness, that irresponsible speculation in the future can make victims again.

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