It's been estimated that 70 percent of the volume of trading on the stock exchanges is done by something called flash traders, which are basically computers that buy and sell stocks and hold them for about 11 seconds on average. All of the discussions around what moves the market, the economy, politics, regulations, company earnings it’s really all out the window given there’s just no way that a computer holding and selling a stock in 11 seconds is going to be able to do all of that analysis. Essentially, there’s no clear-cut explanation for why stocks move up and down every day. And frankly, the fact that we have media trying to make these reports about how it’s related to this or that is just not very helpful for the average investor.
17th century Europe was an era of emerging luxury in which status was often defined by the one's ability to conquer the wild and take control of its beauty. In order to display ones wealth, a flower collection was needed. Like anything within a society, the value of flowers was decided by rarity, which due to a strange sequence of events created a brief moment when tulip bulbs were counted amongst the most valuable objects on earth.
Tulip cultivation in Europe was started in the Netherlands around 1593 by the Flemish botanist Charles de l'Écluse, who had received a collection of tulip bulbs as a gift from the Ottoman Empire. Tulips grow from bulbs, and can be propagated through both seeds and buds. Seeds from a tulip will form a flowering bulb after 7–12 years. When a bulb grows into the flower, the original bulb will disappear, but a clone bulb forms in its place, as do several buds. Properly cultivated, these buds will become bulbs of their own.
Certain color varieties like striped tulips could only be grown through buds, not seeds, and so cultivating the most appealing varieties took years. Tulips bloom in April and May for only about a week, and the secondary buds appear shortly thereafter.
As the flowers grew in popularity, professional growers paid higher and higher prices for bulbs. By 1634, in part as a result of demand from the French, speculators began to enter the market. In 1636, the Dutch created a type of formal futures markets where contracts to buy bulbs at the end of the season were bought and sold. This trade was centered in Haarlem during the height of a bubonic plague epidemic, which may have contributed to a culture of fatalistic risk taking.
The contract price of rare bulbs continued to rise throughout 1636. At its zenith, a single tulip bulb was valued at the equivalent of $400,000. However in February 1637, tulip bulb contract prices collapsed abruptly and the trade of tulips ground to a halt.
Most of juice is water. Water is a heavy, bulky substance that is expensive to ship. So most juices are concentrated by evaporating most of the water and leaving behind a thick liquid. Then the concentrate is shipped to wherever it needs to go, and a local bottling plant adds the right amount of water to the concentrate to produce juice again. Juices not from concentrate are more expensive (all that water was shipped the entire distance), but they’re usually said to taste a little better and the concentrating process risks losing very fragile components.
Between 1845 and 1855 Ireland lost a third of its population—1 million people died from starvation and disease and 2 million emigrated. The decimation of the potato crop in the 1840s brought on the danger of mass starvation, but it was Britain's calculated response that perpetuated the tragedy.
Contrary to popular opinion, the conditions of a famine did not truly exist in Ireland during this time. During the ten year period, researchers have estimated that the island produced enough food to feed 18 million people, more than double its population at the time. English protestant landowners had access to a varied diet and the Irish economy as a whole remained a profitable exporter of grain, pork, beef and fish.
The problem for the Irish people was that they had limited access to these native food resources. British penal law, first instituted in 1695, made it illegal for Irish Catholics to own land, apply for fishing or hunting licenses or to enter trades or professions. This forced the Irish to remain as sharecropping farmers subsisting on small rented farms owned by English Protestants. They relied almost exclusively on the sale of potatoes to pay rent to their landlords and buy food.
When a devastating water mold (phytophthora infestans) struck the potato harvest in 1845, the Irish were deprived of their only cash-crop. Many tried to eat the rotten potatoes and fell ill to cholera and typhus. Landlords evicted the starving tenants, or sent them to workhouses where overcrowding and poor conditions led to more starvation, sickness, and ultimately death. More sympathetic landlords paid the passage for their tenants to emigrate to America, Canada, and Australia. Ship owners took advantage of the situation and wedged hundreds of diseased and desperate Irish into ships that were hardly sea-worthy. These ships became known as "coffin ships" as more than one-third of the passengers died on the voyage.
The belief that the famine was God’s intention guided much of Britain’s policy in their management of the crisis. They viewed the crop failures as “a Visitation of Providence, an expression of divine displeasure” with Ireland and its mostly Catholic peasant population.
The British government in Ireland, led by Sir Charles Trevelyan, was far more concerned with modernizing the Irish economy and reforming its people’s “aboriginal” nature than with saving lives. Trevelyn described the famine as an "effective mechanism for reducing surplus population" and that "the real evil with which we have to contend is not the physical evil of the Famine, but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people".
Trevelyan and other leading British officials had a direct hand in filling newspapers with the idea that the famine was the result of a flaw in the Irish character. Punch, a satirical magazine, regularly portrayed 'Paddy’ as a simian in a tailcoat and a derby, engaged in plotting murder, battening on the labour of the English workingman, and generally living a life of indolent treason. The result of such dehumanizing propaganda was to make unreasonable policy seem more reasonable and just.
Trevelyan never expressed remorse for his policies even after the full scope (approximately 1 million lives) of the Irish famine became known.
Sources: John Kelly's 'The Graves are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People' and Tim Pat Coogan's 'The Famine Plot: England’s Role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy'
Since Christmas gifts are typically mismatched with the recipients’ preferences, the gift will leave the recipient worse off than if they had made their own consumption choice with an equal amount of cash. For this reason, holiday gift-giving destroys between 10 percent and a third of the value of gifts.
If the results are generalized, a waste of one dollar in ten represents a huge aggregate loss to society. It suggests that in America, where givers spend over $50 billion on Christmas gifts, $5 billion is being lost annually in the process of gift-giving. Add in birthdays, weddings and non-Christian occasions, and the figure would balloon.
From Joel Waldfogel 's 1993 research paper 'The Deadweight Loss of Christmas' which was published in the American Economic Review