A short history of bubbles bursting

My recent post on “gathering clouds” generated engagement and feedback both on the blog and Facebook – every now and then a nerve is touched.

My special thanks to a reader who commented that there were £14.00 UDA’s and well-paid associate jobs advertised in the BDJ, to contrast with my gloom.

Equally, I’m listening to a steady flow of institutional investors who want to jump on a perceived bandwagon and invest in the dental sector (can you remember what Sir James Goldsmith said about bandwagons?).

I’ve NO IDEA when the bubble will burst.

I’m confident that IT WILL.

Chatting about bursting bubbles the other day with a Millennial Principal (in the context of buying practices), she asked me:

“has this ever happened before?”

My initial incredulity at the question was replaced by the realisation that Millennials may not have experienced a significant market collapse or recession.

So – for the record (and a trip down memory lane for Boomers):

  • 1973 – hyper-recession, increasing oil prices, the 3-day week and industrial strikes
  • 1979 – mortgage interest rates at 17%
  • 1987 – The Great Storm, Black Monday and a banking collapse as Mexican Banks default
  • 1989 – mortgage interest rates back at 16%
  • 1992 – Black Wednesday as Britain is forced to withdraw from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism and recession follows (Brexit camp please note)
  • 2008 – banking collapse after greed and speculation in financial markets – Iceland goes bust (that’s the country, not the supermarket)

(I may have missed some)

Notice that extended period between 1992 and 2008 when we all thought things were going to improve forever?

They didn’t.

Markets move in cycles – period.

I’m not preaching apocalypse.

Back in the early 1600’s the Puritans were convinced that the “Natural Philosophers” of the day (nowadays called scientists) had calculated the end of the world to be around 1665.

Supplies were hoarded, communities circled their wagons and extremes of preparation ranged from bachannalia to baptism. We even chopped off the King’s head.

In the event, all that actually happened was Bubonic Plague and The Great Fire of London – not the end of the world but a pretty annus horribilis for those concerned.

Heads will roll again.

Next bubble to burst?

The smart investor waits.


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Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.

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