Post-219: Dilbert and Dave Barry on the Middle East

Dave Barry once wrote:

Wall Street [is] always making up preposterous explanations as to why stock prices rise and fall, such as “tension in the Middle East,” when of course there is always tension in the Middle East. When we finally have a nuclear war and there is no life left on Earth except cockroaches, the cockroaches in the Middle East will be tense.

And in the same spirit, a Dilbert comic strip from July 1989:

This was twenty five years ago. Two of the three “reusable headlines” hold up well (certainly “Unrest in the Mideast”). “Home prices rise” was true most of the time. Here is an Economist on U.S. home prices 1987-2013:


USA housing prices, adjusted for inflation, 1985-2013 [Economist] [Link]

There it is, the famous “Housing Bubble”. Prices rose dramatically from 1997-2006. But then in 2008-2009, as prices crashed, the exact opposite of Dilbert’s “eternal headline” was regular news. In 2014 we’re back to “normal”.

Oh, I remember those early and mid 2000s. As far as I could tell, everybody really did believe, somehow, that home prices would rise forever, as if by magic. Late night TV had “how to get rich quick in real estate” shows, one after another. Buy a property and then sell soon(er or later). Housing prices will have had risen some amount, say 10% in a year, for a net profit of many thousands of dollars. Do the same a dozen times, and you’ve made a small fortune! It might as well’ve been manna from heaven.


  1. What I really find amazing is the great difference in prices of houses in different parts of the country. I could buy more than two comparable houses in Connecticut where I grew up if I sold my house in Arlington, VA. The difference is even much larger in other parts of the country. Btw, beautiful addition to the blog heading with the stunning photograph from the Korean mountains (I imagine)…. Is it a photo from your 2013 Korean hike?

    1. Yes, I took that one in the early morning one day, after camping atop a high summit. It was still early October but it was very chilly in the morning up there. The fog inspired awe and mystery but at the actual moment I was shivering too much for comfort. Most of the pictures I attempted that morning didn’t turn out well due to my shivering hand.
      This picture was part of a project for my Korean class, hence the Korean words (which mean “the morning sun” or “sunrise”). See post #184 (Find it on “List of All Posts” at left).

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