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Home > Financial Quotes > Boom and Bust

Financial Quotes

Boom and Bust Quotes

  • "The greatest tragedy would be to accept the refrain that no one could have seen this coming, and thus nothing could have been done. If we accept this notion, it will happen again."
    Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (20092011), US government-appointed commission
    On the financial crisis of 2008–09
    Source: “The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report” (January 2011)
  • "If Greece is equivalent to Bear Sterns, which was rescued by the US authorities, which country is equivalent to Lehman Brothers, which wasn’t?"
    Hamish McRae, British journalist
    Source: Independent (London) (April 30, 2010)
  • "Wall Street is not being made a scapegoat for this crisis: they really did this."
    Michael Lewis (1960–), US writer and former financial trader
    Source: Interview, Independent (London) (April 23, 2010)
  • "My daughter asked me when she came home from school, “What’s the financial crisis?” and I said, it’s something that happens every five to seven years."
    Jamie Dimon (1956–), US CEO of JPMorgan Chase
    Source: Speaking to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (January 13, 2010)
  • "We’ve just had a financial crisis that bankers believed was impossible, whose economic damage has been incalculable. In response we must think the unthinkable."
    Stephen Foley, British journalist
    Source: Independent (London) (January 2, 2010)
  • "The only surprise about the economic crisis of 2008 was that it came as a surprise to so many."
    Joseph Stiglitz (1943–), US economist
    Source: Freefall: America, Free Markets and the Sinking of the World Economy (2010)
  • "Our long, unaffordable global lunch is coming to an end and a headachey afternoon in the office beckons. We’ve spent the last 10 years downing extra digestifs to delay the arrival of the bill. But here it is, without so much as an accompanying mint, and it’s massive. The trick now is to persuade the third world to pay an equal share even though they only had a soup."
    David Mitchell (1974–), British comedian and writer
    Source: Observer (London) (December 13, 2009)
  • "Everyone is saying that we’re on a tightrope, and we certainly are in mid-air over a gorge. But where is the rope?"
    On the state of the British economy.
    Source: Anonymous Tory MP quoted in the Independent (London) (December 7, 2009)
  • "When the crash came, the free market had no answers, no self-correcting mechanisms and no solutions."
    Ivon Fallon, British journalist and author
    Source: Independent (London) (November 27, 2009)
  • "The lesson, surely, is that the recurring nature and the frequency of such follies, and their mutation into hitherto undreamt of forms, suggest that they are in fact an inherent cost of capitalism, or even human nature … The delusion now would be to believe that any system of regulation could prevent such crises and busts happening again."
    Sean O'Grady, British economics journalist
    Source: Independent (London) (November 20, 2009)
  • "The commercial storm leaves its path strewn with ruin. When it is over there is calm, but a dull, heavy calm."
    Alfred Marshall (18421924), British economist
    Source: Quoted in the Economist (London) (October 1, 2009)
  • "We will have more crises and none of them will look like this because no two crises have anything in common except human nature."
    Alan Greenspan (1926–), US economist, former chairman of Federal Reserve
    Source: Interview on BBC TV (September 8, 2009)
  • "It is a bit like trying to cure a cancer patient, while also training him for next year's marathon."
    Bruce Anderson, British journalist
    On attempts to lead the economy out of recession while also cutting government spending.
    Source: Independent (London) (August 10, 2009)
  • "By rescuing the financial system without reforming it, Washington has done nothing to protect us from a new crisis, and, in fact, has made another crisis more likely."
    Paul R. Krugman (1953–), US economist
    Source: New York Times (July 16, 2009)
  • "Companies that weren't much more than pot-fueled ideas scrawled on napkins by up-too-late bong smokers were taken public via IPOs, hyped in the media, and sold to the public for mega-millions. It was as if banks like Goldman were wrapping ribbons around watermelons, tossing them out 50-story windows, and opening the phones for bids. In this game you were a winner only if you took your money out before the melon hit the pavement."
    Matt Taibbi (1970–), US journalist
    On the bubble of 1999–2000.
    Source: Rolling Stone (New York) (July 2009)
  • "When this crisis began, crucial decisions about what would happen to some of the world's biggest companies—companies employing tens of thousands of people and holding trillions of dollars in assets—took place in emergency meetings in the middle of the night. We should not be forced to choose between allowing a company to fall into a rapid and chaotic dissolution or to support the company with taxpayer money. That is unacceptable."
    Barack Obama (1961–), US president
    Source: Speech introducing proposed regulatory reforms for the financial sector (June 17, 2009)
  • "The panic appears to be over. Now is the time to get worried."
    William Keegan (1938–), British author and journalist
    On the recession of 2008–09.
    Source: Observer (London) (June 14, 2009)
  • "Give a small number of people the power to enrich themselves beyond everyone's wildest dreams, a philosophical rationale to explain all the damage they're causing, and they will not stop until they've run the world economy off a cliff."
    Philipp Meyer (1975?–), US novelist and former financial trader
    Source: Independent (London) (April 27, 2009)
  • "In a boom, envy; in a bust, anger."
    Dominic Lawson (1956–), British journalist
    Source: Independent (London) (April 7, 2009)
  • "Gordon Brown promised to abolish boom and bust. He has kept half his promise."
    William Hague (1961–), British politician
    Source: Speech quoted in the Independent (London) (April 6, 2009)
  • "The uncomfortable truth is that we all enjoyed the party far too much to query where all the booze was coming from. Now we seem intent on lynching the barman for letting us get drunk and attacking the Government for letting us get a hangover."
    Sean O'Grady, British economics journalist
    Referring to the financial crisis of 2008–09.
    Source: Independent (London) (April 2, 2009)
  • "My nightmare scenario is that the government saves Citibank once again, as well as the other banks, and business resumes as usual. Then, the next time the system breaks, it breaks much, much bigger."
    Nassim Nicholas Taleb (1960–), Lebanese-born US academic and writer, former derivatives trader
    Source: Interview, Washington Post (March 15, 2009)
  • "We are chronicling something unprecedented: the billionaire bust."
    Steve Forbes (1947–), US publishing executive
    On Forbes magazine's revelation that the number of billionaires in the world had fallen by 30% over the previous 12 months.
    Source: Quoted in the Sunday Independent (Dublin) (March 15, 2009)
  • "You know, in every movie I’ve seen about the end of the world, civilization collapses because of something wicked cool happening—an asteroid hits, nuclear war, a supervirus, an ape revolution, whatever. If civilization collapses over credit default swaps I am going to be pissed."
    Dan McEnroe, US writer and blogger
    Referring to the role of complex derivatives in the financial crisis of 2008–09.
    Source: A Blog Named Sue blog (March 5, 2009)
  • "An army of experts assured us on a daily basis that this boom couldn't possibly crash like previous booms because this boom was still going on whereas all previous booms had ended."
    Mark Steel (1960–), British comedian and author
    Source: Independent (London) (February 11, 2009)
  • "The reality is that this is becoming the most serious global recession for … over 100 years."
    Ed Balls (1967–), British politician
    Source: Speech to Labour conference, Yorkshire (February 9, 2009)
  • "We were on our own for years and we went too far, too fast, in too little time … We're just like kids whose parents went away for the weekend and we trashed the whole house."
    Hallgrimur Helgason (1959–), Icelandic novelist and journalist
    On the implosion of Iceland's financial services industry.
    Source: Quoted in the Guardian (London) (January 26, 2009)
  • "This recession is not a failure of market economics. It is a reassertion of market economics after a decade in which we paid ourselves more than we were producing, and funded it precariously and temporarily by complicated credit instruments that it took a while for the market to rumble … The collapse of confidence is not irrational; it's the correction to a long run of irrational confidence."
    Matthew Parris (1949–), British journalist and former politician
    Source: The Times (London) (January 24, 2009)
  • "Currently the prime minister is the equivalent of a doctor who is asked to save the same person's life several times. Originally the relatives are grateful but then start to wonder why his services are required so often."
    Steve Richards (1960–), British journalist
    On Gordon Brown's bank bailout plans.
    Source: Independent (London) (January 20, 2009)
  • "The government increasingly resembles somebody who is trying to give the kiss of life to a corpse."
    Vince Cable (1943–), British politician
    On the British government's bank bailout plan.
    Source: Independent (London) (January 20, 2009)
  • "There's a rumour going around that states cannot go bankrupt. This rumour is not true."
    Angela Merkel (1954–), German chancellor
    Source: Speech, Frankfurt (January 2009)
  • "That’s our mirror. Every dip, every crash, every bubble that’s burst, a testament to our brilliant stupidity. This one gave us the railroads. This one the Internet. This one the slave trade. And if we hope to do anything about saving the environment, or getting to other worlds, we’ll need a bubble for that too. Everything I’ve ever done in my life worth anything has been done in a bubble: in a state of extreme hope and trust and stupidity."
    Lucy Prebble (1981–), British playwright
    Spoken by Jeffrey Skilling, CEO of Enron, as he points to a chart showing booms and bust in the US stock market
    Source: Enron (2009)
  • "In that restaurant, crammed with self-satisfied know-nothings, we had gazed upon the amoral soul of the housing boom, the crux, the fulcrum, the place where so many dreams would begin, and where heartbreak and financial collapse would surely follow."
    Larry McDonald, US former trader at Lehman Brothers
    On a restaurant frequented by mortgage salesmen at the height of the subprime lending boom
    Source: A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Incredible Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers (2009)
  • "Once you’re in a bubble, it needs nerves of steel to stay out. Can you imagine the pressure? On any trader? Everyone around you is making money … and you’re the one who says I don’t believe in securitised credit arrangements?"
    Sir David Hare (1947–), British playwright
    Source: The Power of Yes (2009)
  • "There’s a strange thing goes on inside a bubble. It’s hard to describe. People who are in it can’t see outside of it, don’t believe there is an outside."
    Lucy Prebble (1981–), British playwright
    Source: Enron (2009)
  • "At present it is a bit like being in a country where a civil war is taking place. Away from the fighting, everything seems normal enough … Open-air cafes are full, shops are busy and the best restaurants have no spare tables. But in the combat zones, perhaps not very far away, life is hellish."
    Andreas Whittam Smith (1937–), British journalist
    On the deepening recession.
    Source: Independent (London) (December 5, 2008)
  • "I and others were mistaken early on in saying that the subprime crisis would be contained."
    Ben Bernanke (1953–), US economist and chairman of the US Federal Reserve
    Source: “Anatomy of a Meltdown,” New Yorker (December 1, 2008)
  • "I looked at the screens. I was staring into the abyss. The end. I felt this shooting pain in my head. I don't get headaches … I thought I was having an aneurysm."
    Danny Moses, US financial trader
    On the stock-market crash of September 18, 2008.
    Source: Quoted in Condé Nast Portfolio (New York) (December 2008)
  • "When depression economics prevails, the usual rules of economic policy no longer apply: virtue becomes vice, caution is risky and prudence is folly."
    Paul R. Krugman (1953–), US economist
    Source: New York Times (November 14, 2008)
  • "We are in the midst of a once-in-a-century credit tsunami. Central banks and governments are being required to take unprecedented measures. Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders' equity are in a state of shocked disbelief."
    Alan Greenspan (1926–), US economist, former chairman of Federal Reserve
    Source: Speaking before the House Committee on Oversight (October 23, 2008)
  • "This thaw took a while to thaw, it's going to take a while to unthaw."
    George W. Bush (1946–), US former president
    Referring to frozen credit markets.
    Source: Speech, Alexandria, Louisiana (October 20, 2008)
  • "Consumer spending is now plunging at serious-recession rate … even if the rescue now in train succeeds in unfreezing credit markets, the real economy has immense downward momentum. In addition to financial rescues, we need major stimulus programs."
    Paul R. Krugman (1953–), US economist
    Source: “Train Headed Downhill,” New York Times blog (October 15, 2008)
  • "Why did no one see it coming?"
    Elizabeth II (1926–), British Queen
    On the financial crash of 2008.
    Source: During a visit to the London School of Economics (October 2008)
  • "When we’re talking about a trillion dollars of taxpayer money, “trust me” just isn’t good enough."
    John McCain (1936–), US senator and presidential candidate
    On the US Treasury secretary’s Wall Street bailout plan.
    Source: Quoted in The Times (London) (September 25, 2008)
  • "This sucker could go down."
    George W. Bush (1946–), US former president
    Referring to the entire US financial system at an emergency cabinet meeting.
    Source: Quoted in the New York Times (September 25, 2008)
  • "These are not normal circumstances. The market is not functioning properly."
    George W. Bush (1946–), US former president
    Source: Speech (September 24, 2008)
  • "There are no atheists in foxholes and there are no libertarians in financial crises."
    Paul R. Krugman (1953–), US economist
    Source: Interview with Bill Maher on HBO TV (September 19, 2008)
  • "Anyone who says we’re in a recession, or heading into one—especially the worst one since the Great Depression—is making up his own private definition of “recession.”"
    Donald Luskin (1954–), US investment guru
    This was the day before Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, triggering a stock-market crash.
    Source: Washington Post (September 14, 2008)
  • "Last year this was a financial crisis that we thought with a bit of luck would be over by Christmas."
    Charles Bean (1953–), British economist and deputy governor of the Bank of England
    Source: Quoted in the Guardian (London) (August 26, 2008)
  • "What, pray, is all the fuss about? … If this is the worst crisis since the Great Depression then we must have all been living pretty cushy, gilded lives since the 1930s. If this is all it takes to destroy capitalism … then it is a wonder why the Soviet Union failed to do so during its seven decades of existence. For the past year has actually not been very bad at all—unless you are a banker, a bank shareholder or Gordon Brown; and few will shed tears for any of those."
    Bill Emmott (1956–), British economics journalist
    Source: Guardian (London) (August 12, 2008)
  • "We can have confidence in the long-term foundation of our economy … I think the system basically is sound. I truly do."
    George W. Bush (1946–), US former president
    The US financial system plunged into crisis in September.
    Source: Speech (July 15, 2008)
  • "I think this is a case where Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are fundamentally sound. They’re not in danger of going under … I think they are in good shape going forward."
    Barney Frank (1940–), US politician
    Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were taken into government “conservatorship” in September 2008.
    Source: Remark (July 14, 2008)
  • "It's quite possible that at some point we may get an odd quarter or two of negative growth, but recession is not the central projection at all."
    Mervyn King (1948–), British governor of the Bank of England
    Source: Speech (May 2008)
  • "The fundamentals of America's economy are strong."
    John McCain (1936–), US senator and presidential candidate
    Source: Interview on Bloomberg TV (April 17, 2008)
  • "A very powerful and durable rally is in the works. But it may need another couple of days to lift off. Hold the fort and keep the faith!"
    Richard Band, US financial writer
    Source: Profitable Investing Letter (March 27, 2008)
  • "The current financial crisis in the US is likely to be judged in retrospect as the most wrenching since the end of the Second World War."
    Alan Greenspan (1926–), US economist, former chairman of Federal Reserve
    Source: Financial Times (London) (March 16, 2008)
  • "The market is in the process of correcting itself."
    George W. Bush (1946–), US former president
    Source: Speech (March 14, 2008)
  • "History records no case where the bubble gracefully deflated, accompanied by a slight hiss of escaping optimism. The speculative episode always ends with a loud explosion."
    Andreas Whittam Smith (1937–), British journalist
    Source: Independent (London) (January 28, 2008)
  • "If the financial system has a defect, it is that it reflects and magnifies what we human beings are like … money amplifies our tendency to overreact, to swing from exuberance when things are going well to deep depression when they go wrong. Booms and busts are products, at root, of our emotional volatility."
    Niall Ferguson (1964–), British historian
    Source: The Ascent of Money (2008)
  • "The recession debate is over. It's not gonna happen … The Bush boom is alive and well. It's finishing up its sixth splendid year with many more years to come."
    Lawrence Kudlow (1947–), US economist and right-wing commentator
    Source: Kudlow’s Money Politics blog (December 5, 2007)
  • "The world economy [is] more stable than for a generation … Our hugely sophisticated financial markets match funds with ideas better than ever before."
    David Cameron (1966–), British prime minister
    The first signs of the global financial crisis were already becoming apparent.
    Source: Speech, London School of Economics (September 2007)
  • "Over the ten years that I have had the privilege of addressing you as Chancellor, I have been able year by year to record how the City of London has risen by your efforts, ingenuity and creativity to become a new world leader … So I congratulate you, Lord Mayor and the City of London, on these remarkable achievements, an era that history will record as the beginning of a new golden age for the City of London."
    Gordon Brown (1951–), British former prime minister
    The first signs of the global financial crisis became apparent the following month.
    Source: Speech while chancellor of the exchequer, Mansion House, City of London (June 20, 2007)
  • "It's a crisis if everybody calls it a crisis."
    Morgan Downey, US commodities trader
    Source: Remark (2007)
  • "The final chapter of Greenspan's legacy has not been written. Maybe it will work out fine, but maybe not."
    Paul Kasriel, US financial analyst
    On Alan Greenspan's retirement as chairman of the US Federal Reserve.
    Source: Quoted on (January 26, 2006)
  • "Unsustainable situations usually go on longer than most economists think possible. But they always end, and when they do, it's often painful."
    Paul R. Krugman (1953–), US economist
    Source: Address given in Bangkok (September 2005)
  • "Real estate is still a great investment opportunity for households. Price appreciation will continue. It may not be at 20%. It may … even go down to 5%."
    David Lereah, US economist and former spokesman for the National Association of Realtors
    Between 2006 and 2008 US house prices fell faster than they fell during the Great Depression.
    Source: Interview on (August 12, 2005)
  • "We are in the biggest real-estate boom we've ever seen. Something is going to happen to end this."
    Robert Shiller (1946–), US economist and author
    Between 2006 and 2008 US house prices fell faster than they fell during the Great Depression.
    Source: Remark (August 2005)
  • "Global capital markets pose the same kinds of problems that jet planes do. They are faster, more comfortable, and they get you where you are going better. But the crashes are much more spectacular."
    Lawrence H. Summers (1954–), US economist and former president of Harvard University
    Source: Interview, Time (June 26, 2005)
  • "Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism, and die on euphoria."
    Sir John Templeton (19122008), American-born British investor and philanthropist
    Source: Quoted in Short-term Trading in the New Stock Market (Toni Turner, 2005)
  • "The central problem of depression-prevention has been solved, for all practical purposes."
    Robert Lucas, Jr (1937–), US economist
    Source: Address to the American Economic Association (2003)
  • "The four most expensive words in the English language are, “This time, it’s different.”"
    Sir John Templeton (19122008), American-born British investor and philanthropist
    Source: Quoted in The Four Pillars of Investing (William J. Bernstein, 2002)
  • "If Wall Street crashes, does Main Street follow? Not necessarily."
    Ben Bernanke (1953–), US economist and chairman of the US Federal Reserve
    Source: Remark (September 2000)
  • "Nothing sedates rationality like large doses of effortless money. After a heady experience of that kind, normally sensible people drift into behavior akin to that of Cinderella at the ball the giddy participants all plan to leave just seconds before midnight. There's a problem, though: they are dancing in a room in which the clocks have no hands."
    Warren Buffett (1930–), US entrepreneur and financier
    Source: Letter to shareholders (2000)
  • "Property and stock market crashes … litter the history of capitalism. But at the same time there is no evidence that anyone has ever been successful in preventing such a crash."
    Lester Thurow (1938–), US economist, management theorist, and writer
    Source: “Barking Up the Wrong Tree,” (November 2, 1999)
  • "A crash does not come knocking at the front door by appointment."
    Jim Slater (1929–), British business executive and author
    Source: Quoted in Treasury of Investment Wisdom (Bernice Cohen, 1999)
  • "Blaming speculators as a response to financial crisis goes back at least to the Greeks. It's almost always the wrong response."
    Lawrence H. Summers (1954–), US economist and former president of Harvard University
    On the financial crisis in South-East Asia.
    Source: Remark (1997)
  • "There is no evidence that the business cycle has been repealed."
    Alan Greenspan (1926–), US economist, former chairman of Federal Reserve
    Source: Wall Street Journal (1997)
  • "In a market like this, every story is a positive one. Any news is good news. It's pretty much taken for granted now that the market is going to go up."
    The market began to decline that day, plummeted nearly 1,000 points in October, and did not regain its August peak for nearly two years
    Source: Wall Street Journal (August 26, 1987)
  • "In the next economic downturn there will be an outbreak of bitterness and contempt for the supercorporate chieftains who pay themselves millions. In every major economic downturn in US history the villains have been the heroes during the preceding boom."
    Peter F. Drucker (19092005), US management consultant and academic
    Source: Quoted in “Seeing Things As They Really Are,” Forbes (Robert Lenzner and Stephen S. Johnson, 1987)
  • "A depression is a situation of self-fulfilling pessimism."
    Joan Robinson (19031983), British economist
    Source: “The Short Period,” Economic Heresies (1970)

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