The Right to Speak Freely

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In 1783, George Washington spoke to a group of Military officers, telling them “If freedom of speech is taken away, them dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” Unlike today’s modern world, freedom of speech has not always been a right and, particularly in America, the government has not always preserved it. The tradition of freedom of speech has been challenged by several hundred years of war, of changes in culture and of legal challenges.

1790

After listening to a suggestion made by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison secured the Bill of Rights, of which the First Amendment is a part of, ensuring it was included in the US Constitution. The theory of the First Amendment is that it is there to protect people’s rights to free speech. In practice, it is more of a symbolic gesture.

1798

President John Adams took umbrage when his administration was criticized and made a successful push for the Alien and Sedition Acts. The Sedition Act was aimed at those people who supported Thomas Jefferson and it was passed to restrict people from criticizing any President. In 1800, Thomas Jefferson took over the presidency and the law expired. John Adams party would never again be in a position of power.

1873

In 1873 the Federal Comstock Act was passed, granting the US Postal Service the authority to be able to censor mail. In particular, it was aimed at letters containing material that could be classed as “obscene, lewd and /or lascivious”.

1897

The desecration of the US Flag was officially banned in South Dakota and Illinois, Pennsylvania in this year. This ban was to last almost 100 years before the Supreme Court declared the ban as unconstitutional and lifted it.

1918

In this year, the Sedition Act was passed to target socialists, anarchists and any other left-wing activists that were against the participation of the US in World War 1. This marks the nearest point to which the US Government came to adopting a model of government that could be classed as Fascist and nationalist.

1940

The Smith Act, or The Alien Registration Act as it was officially known, was aimed at any person who recommended the replacement of the government, i.e. who wanted the current government overthrown. It also made it a requirement that all adults who were not US citizens were to register for monitoring purposes with government agencies. In 1957, the Act was weakened by the Supreme Court.

1942

The Fighting Words Doctrine was established by the Supreme Court, with a definition stating that laws that restricted the use of insulting or hateful language were not necessarily a violation of the First Amendment.

1969

Students, who were punished because they donned black armbands to demonstrate their opposition to the Vietnam War, went to the Supreme Court where it was ruled that they are covered in the Free Speech Protection mentioned in the First Amendment.

1971

The Washington Post started a series of publications on the Pentagon papers. This was a copy of a US Defense Department report which had been leaked and concerned the relations between the US and Vietnam between 1945 and 1967. The papers revealed that there were a number of embarrassing and highly dishonest foreign policy messes made by the US Government. The government made several futile attempts to stop the publication but were never successful.

1978

The Supreme Court granted power to the Federal Communications Commission to levy fines against any network that broadcast content that was considered to be indecent.

1996

Congress passed the Communications Decency Act. This was a federal law, aimed at applying indecency restrictions, classed as criminal law restrictions, to the internet. Just one year later, the Supreme Court, struck the law to its knees.

These are just some of the notable points in history pertaining to the freedom of speech and the long battle to gain it. Many governments, not just in the US but everywhere, have attempted to bring about laws that would effectively silence people and ensure that they controlled what could and could not be spoken, published or broadcast.

Many governments have tried and many governments have failed but there is no doubt that this is a battle that will continue to the end of time.

The Vatican City – History in the Making

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Sited on the banks of the Tiber River, on a hill sits the Vatican City. It is a place that has one of the richest histories in the world and is one of the most influential. The religious history that surrounds the Vatican City crosses centuries and is now the embodiment of many of the most important parts of the cultural history of Rome.

The Vatican City is home to the Roman Catholic Church headquarters. There you will find the central government for the Church, the Bishop of Rome, otherwise known as the Pope and the College of Cardinals.

Every year millions upon millions of people travel to the Vatican City, primarily to see the Pope but also to worship in St Peter’s basilica and to view the wonders that are stored in the Vatican Museums.

The Beginning of the Vatican City

Technically speaking, the Vatican City is a country, an independent city-state and is the smallest in the whole world. The Vatican City’s political body is governed by the Pope but, and not everyone knows this, it is many, many years younger than the Church.

As a political body, the Vatican City has been classed as a Sovereign State since 1929, when a treaty was signed between the Kingdom of Italy and the Catholic Church. That treaty was the end result of more than 3 years of negotiations on how certain relations should be handled between them, namely political, financial and religious.

Although the negotiations took 3 years, the dispute actually began back in 1870 and neither the Pope nor his cabinet would agree to leave the Vatican City until the dispute was resolved. That happened in 1929 with the Lateran Treaty.

This was the defining point for the Vatican as it was this treaty that determined the City as a completely new entity. It was this treaty that split the Vatican City from the rest of the Papal States that were, in essence, most of the Kingdom of Italy from 765 through to 1870. Much of the territory was brought into The Kingdom of Italy in 1860 with Rome and Lazio not capitulating until 1870.

The roots of the Vatican City go back much further though. Indeed, we can trace them back as far as the 1st Centruy AD when the Catholic Church was first established. Between the 9th and 10th Centuries right on through to the Renaissance period, the Catholic Church was at the top of its power, politically speaking. The Popes gradually took on more and more governing power eventually heading up all of the regions that surrounded Rome.

The Papal States were responsible of the government of Central Italy until the unification of Italy, almost a thousand years of rule. For a great deal of this time, following their return to the City in 1377 after an exile to France that lasted 58 years, the reigning Popes would reside in one of a number of palaces in Rome.   When the time cane for Italy to unify the popes refused to recognize that the Italian King had a right to rule and they refused to leave the Vatican. This ended in 1929.

Much of what people see in the Vatican City, the paintings, sculpture and architecture, was created during those Golden years. Now revered artists, people such as Raphael, Sandro Botticelli and Michelangelo made the journey to the Vatican City to pronounce their faith and their dedication to the Catholic Church. This faith can be seen in the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s basilica.

The Vatican City Now

Today, the Vatican City remains a religious and historical landmark, as important now as it was then. It receives millions of visitors from all around the world, visitors who come to see the beauty of the City, to take in its history and the culture and to express their belief in the Catholic Church.

The influence and the power of the Vatican City were not left in the past though. It is the center, the heart of the Catholic Church and, as such, because Catholicism is still one of the single largest religions in the entire world, it remains as a highly influential and visible presence in the world today.

In between the priceless art houses in the Museums, the beautiful architecture that is St Peters Basilica and the religious significance of the Pope, the Vatican City has become one of the most popular destinations in the world for travelers. It is the embodiment of some of the more significant parts of both Western and Italian history, opening a window onto the past, a past that lives on today.

A Browse Through the History of the Internet

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Unlike many things we take for granted these days, like a light bulb or perhaps the telephone, the invention of the internet cannot be attributed to one single inventor. It is something that has evolved through the years and is now one our biggest recreational pastimes.

We can pinpoint the beginnings of the internet by going back to the Cold War when the Americans used it as a weapon. For many years, it was used as a method of communication between researchers and scientists, for them to share their data with one another. Today, it is used for just about anything and, for some, life without the internet would be unthinkable.

Enter the Sputnik

October 4th, 1957. The Russians, then known as the Soviet Union, launched Sputnik. This was the first man-made satellite, sent into orbit, to circle around the earth. It was a failure; all it dis was tumble around in outer space, with no real direction, sending back the odd bleep from the on-board radio transmitters.

Failure it may have been, the USA still saw it as a threat, a warning that they needed to take notice of. While some of the brightest minds in the USA had spent their time designing televisions and cars it would seem that the Soviets had been directing their energies elsewhere – on something that would help them win the Cold War.

It took the launch of this satellite to make America sit up and think. Subjects such as chemistry and physics began to appear on the school syllabus. Government grants were provided for corporations to invest in research and development.

The Federal government began to form new agencies and, so, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) was born. Alongside NASA another Department of Defense Agency appeared. The Advanced Research Projects Agency, or ARPA for short, was set up for the development of space-age technology – rockets, computers and weapons.

ARPAnet is born

One of the main concerns with Sputnik from the point of view of the scientists and the military experts was the effect a Soviet attack could have on the telephone system. The biggest fear was that the whole system would be destroyed in one fell swoop, leaving the Americans without any form of communication.

In 1962, J C R Licklider, an MIT and ARPA scientist came up with a solution. He proposed a “galactic” network, a series of computers that could communicate with each other, which would allow government leaders to talk to each other even if the telephone system were destroyed.

In 1965, yet another MIT scientist came up with something called packet switching, a system of sending information from one computer straight to another.

The way that packet switching works is it breaks data into smaller blocks before sending it on its way. Each block, or packet, can then find its own route to its destination and, without this system, the entire network would still have been open to attack.

“Login”

In 1969, ARPAnet, as the system became known, sent its very first message. It was called a “node to node” communication and it went from one computer, housed at UCLA inside a research lab to another one in Stanford. At that time, each computer was about the size of a small house.

The message they sent was very short and very simple – LOGIN – but it still managed to bring down the ARPA network and the Stanford computer received only the first two letters of the message.

The Growth of the Network

By the time 1969 had ended there were 4 computers connected to ARPAnet but, throughout the seventies, the network began to grow, In 1971, the University of Hawaii’s ALOHAnet was added to the network followed a couple of years later by those from the London University College and Norway’s Royal Radar Establishment.

As these networks began to multiply it started to become difficult to integrate them all into one universal global network, called the “internet”. By the end of the seventies Vinton Cerf, a computer scientist, had found the solution to this by coming up with a way for all of the computers on these mini-networks to talk to each other. It was called “Transmission Control Protocol” or TCP for short.

He later added another protocol into the mix called “internet protocol” and that is what we know today as TCP/IP.

The Beginning of the World Wide Web

This protocol turned the entire series of mini networks into one big worldwide network. During the eighties, scientists and researchers alike made use of this new network to send each other files and date, from one computer straight to another. However, in 1991, everything changed again.

Tim Berners-Lee, a computer programmer from Switzerland, gave us the World Wide Web. This was a system that could be used, not just to send data and files between computers but also as a place of information, a web if you like. This was somewhere where anyone could go to find information about things. This was the internet, as we know it today.

Since then, the internet has evolved beyond recognition. In 1992, at the University of Illinois, a group of researchers and students got together and produced Mosaic. This was the world’s very first internet browser, a very sophisticated one for its time, although later its name was changed to Netscape.  Mosaic made it easy to search the internet for information; it let users see pictures as well as words, both on the same page for the very first time.

Mosaic also allowed users to use things like scrollbars and links that you could click, to navigate their way around the web. In the same year, Congress allowed that the web could be used for commercial use of. Because of that, a number of companies began to set up websites, and e-commerce entrepreneurs started to sell goods and services on the internet and now, with social sites like Twitter and Facebook, it is a complete world of its own.

 

A Hallucinogenic History of Pyschoactive Drugs

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There is no doubt about it, drugs do have a long and lasting effect on society, perhaps none more so than those that come under the heading of psychoactive. What is a psychoactive drug though?

The medical definition states that a psychoactive drug is one that has an impact of sorts on the mood, the way of thinking and the behavior of the person taking it.  This is done by way of manipulation of the central nervous system.

Human beings have a long history of using these drugs, going back many millennia.  While it is not possible to list every single instance of a psychoactive drug being used, we can find some of them. The earliest instances of this type of drug come from plants and fruits that have the ability to alter mood.

The Ancient Civilizations

The Egyptian, the Chinese, the Indians, South Americans and Sumerians, to name but a few of the ancient cultures, used alcohol, opium, cannabis, psychedelic (magic) mushrooms, peyote and coca leaves.

The Middle-Ages

This was the year of psychoactive plants and much use was made of belladonna and psilocybin mushrooms, mostly by shamans for the purpose of healing. Also widely used were coffee and distilled alcohol.

Renaissance

The most used psychoactive ingredients in this period we tobacco, coffee, distilled alcohol, opium and tea. The tea would have been made from the leaves of certain plants, not tea as we know it today.

Early Industrial Revolution

This was the era when techniques were developed to refine the drugs.  They made morphine from opiates; they came up with hypodermic needles and rolling machines for tobacco. All of this served to increase the abuse and the chances of addiction to these drugs.

20th Century

The drug scene picked up speed, if you will pardon the pun, in this era.  We got better at distributing the drugs; we made newer drugs from synthetic ingredients and so began the era of drug regulation.  We got prohibition and the exclusion of marijuana and all this served to do increase the use.

Today

The drug business is huge these days, with vast amounts of cash. Believe it or not, terrorism has played its part in exacerbating the situation, opening up new markets and new channels for distribution.  Certain countries thrive on the growth of cocaine, cannabis and other such drugs.

When the 21st Centruy dawned, we saw a huge increase in so-called club drugs, such as Ecstasy and GHB although this increase was only for a short time. Instead, alcohol, marijuana and methamphetamines increase in use.

Prescription drugs became the drug of choice, mainly because they were so easy to get hold off.  Psychoactive drugs had found their home and they were to stay.  Despite early regulations that ruled marijuana illegal, many US states have now declared it a legal substance for medical purposes only.

Psychoactive Classification

Psychoactive drugs are generally known either by their trade or street name:

  • Uppers – Cocaine, Methamphetamine, caffeine, nicotine
  • Downers – Opioids, heroin, alcohol, sedative hypnotics
  • Psychedelics –  LSD, MDMA
  • Psychiatric medications – anti-biotic, mood stabilizers, anti-anxiety drugs

Hallucinogens

The history of hallucinogenic drugs goes back around 2000 years. The Native Indian used the Peyote cactus, psilocybin mushrooms were used by the Mayans while the use of Cannabis began in 3000BC in China.

It is widely believed that psychoactive and hallucinogenic drugs were largely responsible for the creation of some cultures.  They were a major influence of art and religion for the Mayans. Peyote is thought to have been the influence of religion of the Huichol Indians in Mexico.  The list could go on because, somewhere though history, psychoactive drugs have had a major influence on society in one way or another.

The foods you eat

What may be worrying is that many of the common psychoactive ingredients can be found in the food you consume on a daily basis. Coffee, tea and chocolate, not to mention anything with alcohol or tobacco in it. Many prescription drugs, though they may seem to be relatively harmless, also contain psychoactive ingredients.  So, the next time you feel higher than normal or inexplicably down, take a look at what you are consuming for the answer first.

The iPhone – 7 Years and Counting

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The iPhone is one of the world’s most iconic devices and, in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t very old. But when did it begin? Where did the idea come from?

The very first iPhone was unveiled in January 2007 at the MacWorld convention. Steve Jobs revealed what Apple had been developing for nearly 3 years and, for its time, it represented the cutting edge of technology.

The device was introduced as an iPod with a wider screen, controlled by touch instead of physical buttons. In short, it was a mobile phone and a device to communicate with the internet. At the time, Jobs told the audience that this device would “reinvent the phone”.

While revealing the design of this new device, Jobs took time out to make fun of the current smartphones on the market, ones that relied on a physical keyboard and were unwieldy to use.  He showed off how simple it was to control a phone using simple touch gestures on a screen and the audience were hooked.

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Seduction Community in the Spotlight

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In the beginning, there was Dear Abby – an American institution since the 1950s. Write in, and get nice, sensible advice on your dating dilemma. But the catch was that it was PG-rated, written by a woman and generally for them. Young men continued to get a lot of their dating advice from their peers in the locker room, and if they were lucky, an older male mentor who knew the ropes.

Away from the safe, clean-cut mainstream arena, there were always the racy magazines like Playboy which gave a totally different view. After finishing the articles, the attentive reader could go to the back and find books advertised with titles like “How to Pick Up Girls”. This classic by Eric Weber appeared in 1970, and included advice such as wearing bell-bottoms and marching in peace marches to pick up the hot hippies. The 1950s were gone, and men’s dating advice had moved on from how long you should wait to kiss a girl on the cheek at her doorstep. This was red-blooded and unashamed pick-up artistry! The term itself became part of the language, and the 1970s was a time when pick-up artistry flourished, albeit still underground.

Things changed as the 1980s brought in a different atmosphere. Reagan was in the White House, concerned parents were clamping down on rock and roll lyrics, and most importantly the specter of AIDS changed the whole dating landscape. The free-wheeling 1970s over, in dating advice magazines and on TV, there was understandably a focus on staying safe.

Moving into the 1990s, Oprah gave voice to women’s viewpoints on relations between the sexes, and ushered in the sensitive metrosexual. It was also a time of such bestselling books as “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” and “The Rules”. While the former was written by a man, it seemed to cater more to women and required men to “get with the program”. And the latter defined the 1990s dating scene with what was effectively game for women. It was the decade of women making the rules. It was a tough and confusing time to be a man in the 1990s, as men no longer knew whether to be a traditional macho male, or a Sensitive New Age Guy.

Towards the end of the decade, new things started to stir. AIDS was no longer front-and-center in people’s minds, Oprah’s “you go girl!” brand of feminism was mainstream, and the time was right for men to start something of their own. Most importantly, the Web was starting to provide a new platform for men to give advice on the dating arena. The internet would well and truly shake things up.

One of the first gurus of the new era was Ross Jeffries. Selling books and CDs from his website, he told the would-be Casanova that no matter how nebbish you might be, you could learn to charm any woman into bed. Jeffries was big on NLP, effectively a rebranded form of hypnosis. In many ways, he was like a holdover from the 1970s with his unrepentant focus on getting women into bed. Love him or hate him, he showed that there was a huge market on the internet for male-focused dating tips.

Next on the scene was David De Angelo. More family-friendly than Ross Jeffries, who could come across as misogynistic, De Angelo promised you could “Double Your Dating” through attending his seminars or buying his DVD sets. De Angelo offered some key concepts which at the time were breakthroughs to many young men. His audience were the “nice guys” created by the feminism of the 80s and 90s who now found that the jerks seemed to be getting all the girls. He told them to be “cocky and funny”, skating just on the socially acceptable side of jerkdom. De Angelo also introduced the concept of the “neg”, one of the most notorious (and misunderstood) concepts of new-school “Game”.

Basically, a “neg” is giving a back-handed or ambiguous compliment to a girl, such as “I love your hair – is it real?” or telling an obviously glamorous and beautiful woman “ you’re cute – like my bratty little sister”. Designed to get the attention of sought-after women used to getting fawning compliments, it was easily abused by novices, who would make these kind of remarks to less attractive and more insecure women, or turn them into outright insults. This was the kind of dating advice that had its place, but could easily go wrong, and tended to get bad press. De Angelo was everywhere on the internet in the first few years of the 2000s, as he was essentially a marketer and businessman using the dating advice for men arena as his stepping stone to bigger things. Now under his real name, he has gone on to become a hugely successful and wealthy entrepreneur.

But even more important than De Angelo and the marketers was the ragtag group of men who started to congregate on various internet message boards in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This was something new – men learning and sharing their dating experiences pseudonymously in real time. One of them was a young Canadian by the name of Eric von Markovic, better known as Mystery. Striding around the streets of Toronto in platform boots and a top hat, wearing a feather boa (“peacocking”), Mystery would perform magic tricks to the delight of young women, in the most flamboyant pick-up artist tradition. While perhaps not the greatest or most original of PUAs, he now had an online audience of eager acolytes who took his approach and went out on the streets to try to replicate it.

A movement was forming, and online forum posts were studded with enough jargon and acronyms to require a glossary. The online seduction community, or simply “The Community” as it was known, grew enormously as it bubbled up from the grassroots. Various gurus espoused their own approaches, such as “direct” or “indirect”. The most notorious would simply advise men to “get into sexual state” as they talked to women, and let their raging pheromones do the seducing for them. Others, building from Mystery’s more cerebral approach, built elaborate theoretical models which could be drawn up on a whiteboard like a physics problem.

The time was right for a breakout into the mainstream, and it occurred in 2005 with the publication of “The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists” by Neil Strauss. This book provided a window on “the Community” and revealed the techniques of Mystery and his followers, as well as their real-life stories. Suddenly, a whole new generation of young men were getting advice on women which wasn’t given by women or filtered through family values.

Within a couple of years, most young men were at least passingly familiar with this kind of approach to dating and women, especially after more media exposure like the VH1 show “The Pick-Up Artist” which starred none other than Mystery. Some people laughed it off, others drew out what they saw as valuable lessons. In the wake of this mainstream exposure, a number of companies and individuals sprang up, creating a small industry of dating and pickup advice through DVDs and coaching and “boot camps” where – for a fee – you could go out on the town with a seduction guru and learn the “crimson arts”. Many major cities have become accustomed to these groups of young men going out and practicing their techniques, with lesser or greater effectiveness.

This vast array of dating products and services flooding the market started to cause concern amongst large sections of the ‘community’, due to the complete lack of regulation. Any person could walk in off the street, proclaim themselves a ‘guru’, and start selling products and services, often for fees in excess of $4,000, to anyone who would purchase them. To combat the rise of the fake guru who was just looking to make a quick dollar, PUA accountability groups started appears. PUAWatchDog started analysing the claims of different Gurus to test their validity and dating product review sites such as Seduction Review started giving customers a voice to share their opinions and experiences with other potential customers. These accountability groups helped ensure that customers weren’t getting ripped off by unscrupulous marketers.

With the level of information on pickup techniques reaching new saturation point, with every possible scenario for attracting a woman having it’s own book, DVD, and live coaching program, seduction community focussed turned to the effect the inner-psychology of the individual had on the outcome of the flirting and seduction attempts. This was known as ‘Inner Game’. Companies such as Authentic Man Program and The Attraction Institute developed structures and tactics for eliminating ones inner-roadblocks that were getting in the way of a successful seduction.

At this point, the PUA gurus and online communities are no longer new and novel, but they haven’t become exactly mainstream either. More recently, there has been less of a focus on “Game” and specific techniques to seduce women, and more emphasis on general self-improvement – fitness, finances, etc. – in order to increase not only success with women but overall life satisfaction. This definitely seems to be a more balanced approach than going out to hit on dozens of women every night.

There are other trends for men seeking to improve their dating success, such as an increased realization that American and Western women in general are not the only women in the world, and many men are reporting having better love lives from branching out to foreign countries. Whole online communities are devoted to the life of the budding international playboy, who enjoys not only the sights and food of other countries but also reports back on their success with the local women.

Meanwhile, there are totally different online communities, such as popular dating advice sub–Reddits, where a group of peers give advice either to the opposite sex or to their own gender. It could be considered a kind of crowd-sourced dating advice and unlike the “PUA” communities, gurus are shunned in favor of a more democratic and gender-equal approach. Men who identify as feminist or are in favor of a chivalrous approach to women will find a more friendly place for dating advice on mainstream sites like Reddit. One thing is for sure, there are many options and approaches to dating in 2014, and the spread of information is ensuring that men have plenty of information and advice to help them navigate this aspect of their lives.

30 Years of Financial Crisis

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The world’s financial markets are destined to be stuck in a loop, forever repeating history, as overspending and bad business decisions result in financial crisis for everyone. This has been the pattern in the world since the financial industry began.

A look back over the last 30 years or so sees the same pattern repeating itself – excessive and unrestrained exuberance, poor regulations, poor accounting and a sense that “it won’t happen to me”.

This is a look at some of worst crises to hit the world markets since 1980 and how, it would seem, lessons are never learned.

1982 – Latin American Sovereign Debt

This crisis occurred when a number of  Latin American countries, who had been irrationally spending and running up deb for years, suddenly took stock and realized they had no hope of paying it back.

Mexico, Argentina and Brazil were the biggest culprits, using borrowed money for infrastructure and development. Their economies were in a boom period and banks were happy to loan money. In just 7 years, the debt in Latin America quadrupled.

The crunch cane when the world went into recession in the late seventies – interest rose, currencies fell and, in August 1982, the then Mexican Finance minister, Jesus Silva-Herzog, declared that Mexico could not pay.

1980’s Savings and Loans Crisis

While the problem in Latin America was being resolved another one was taking place in America.  The Savings and Loans crisis lasted for more than a decade following the breakdown of more than 700 different savings and loans associations in America.

It happened because each of these associations was lending money long term at fixed rates but was using short-term cash.  Interest rates went up, many companies were insolvent but, because of a stream of deregulation that happened when Ronald Reagan was the president, many managed to appear as if they were actually still solvent.

1987 – Stock Market Crash

Despite what happened in the eighties, lessons were not learned and another two crises happened before 1989. The biggest one was the stock market crash of 1987, now commonly known as Black Monday.

Stock markets around the world fell fast, including the US where the Dow Jones lost 23% of its value in hit. There is still, to this day, much debate about the cause of the crash but the consensus seems to be program trading and its growth.

It lasted only a very short time and. By December of the same year, the markets were on the up again and everything was back to normal, as if it had never happened.

1989 – Junk Bond Crash

This one resulted in a rather significant recession in the US and there is still disagreement about the cause. Most people point the finger at the buyout of UAL, costing $6.75 billion, while other says it was the Ohio Mattress Fiasco.

Whatever the reason, the result was one of the most expensive to ever hit the US and it resulted in the closure of one of the largest investment banks in the US, Drexel Burnham Lambert, who dealt heavily in Junk Bonds.

1994 – Tequila crisis

This one was kicked off by the sudden devaluation of the Peso in Mexico and it resulted in an interest rate crisis of massive proportions.  The cause of it was the new President abolishing tight currency controls that were put in place by his predecessor.  His reasoning was that, although they stabilized the market, the controls also place a huge strain on the country’s finances.

Before he took power, banks were lending at low rates and with Chiapas, one of the poorer southern states, rebelling, the peso fell in value by almost 50% in the space of a week.  The US bailed Mexico out to the tune of a $50 billion loan and the economy picked up almost immediately.

1997 – 1998 – Asia Crisis

Over 15 years after the LatAm crisis in 1982, history repeated itself in Asia.  The Thailand currency, the baht, collapsed in July 1997 after the government was forced it float it on the market.

Thailand was in debt in a big way, money it could pay back even before their currency broke down and the financial crisis quickly spread across Asia. Once again, the IMF came to rescue with a bailout to the tune of $40 million but the exact same thing happened in Russia just one year later.

1999 – 2000 – Dotcom Bubble

Once again, the financial markets forget everything that had happened in the past and the result was the burst of the Dotcom bubble in 2000.  Preceding the crash, stocks in technology and internet pushed the stock format into a bull market, crating millionaires overnight.

The fact that so few people actually made any money was largely ignored and hysteria continued to build until the inevitable burst in 2000. The economy put the brakes on and interest rates went up, resulting in companies going bust everywhere.

2007 – Date – Global Financial Crisis

A mere few years after that crash, the world went into its nastiest meltdown yet, resulting in the European Sovereign debt crisis.  Many major financial institutions collapsed and this is considered to be the worst crisis to hit since the Great Depression.

There are many causes to this crisis but the main starting point was when the US housing market crashed.  That crisis is ongoing to this day and, although many countries are now struggling out of the depths, it is expected to be several years before full recovery is experienced.

Have we learned our lessons?

Probably not. It seems that the world’s financial markets are stuck in an endless loop of repeating themselves. Markets boom, prices and interest rise. It reaches a point where it can’t be sustained and everything crashes to the floor.

Every time there is a crisis, new regulations are brought out to prevent a recurrence. It doesn’t work and there are those that believe we need the crashes to make the world a stronger place

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