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The Greater Fool


In times when the economy makes headlines more than superstars, I was quite enthralled when I came across this term - "The Greater Fool" - while being indulged in the awesomeness of Will McAvoy's journalistic genius and Sloan Sabboth's geekiness on the The Newsroom. Honestly, nothing inspires me more than a recap of the few but surprisingly amazing episodes of this sitcom by Aaron Sorkin. It is not like any other drama or thriller - what it is, is a story about journalistic ethics, out-of-the-box thinking, the importance of experience, and the plights of genius - how we can make the world a better and civilized place if everyone of us acted like knights.


"The Greatre Fool" in reality, is an economic theory.

"The Greater fool theory states that the price of some entity is determined, not by it's own intrinsic value, but rather by the irrational beliefs, expectations and willingness of the buyer to pay. According to the theory, any price, no matter how high, can be justified by a rational buyer under the belief that another party – an irrational buyer – is willing to pay an even higher price."
What it essentially says is it is possible to make money by buying securities or stocks, no matter how over-valued or unrealistic they may be, and sell them later with good profits, because there will always be someone - the greater fool - who is willing to push the price up by paying higher figures. This line of thinking can cause and fuel stockmarkets and commodity market booms and manias which, in due course, lead bubbles to burst and paranoias. 

It is a short term investment strategy. Those who subscribe to the greater fool theory will most often make questionable investments not because they believe that the current price is attractive, but rather because they believe in the possibility of selling it further.

If we forget about the economics of this theory, here's how Sorkin puts it -

“The greater fool is actually an economic term. It’s a patsy. For the rest of us to profit, we need a greater fool— someone who will buy long and sell short. Most people spend their life trying not to be the greater fool; we toss him the hot potato, we dive for his seat when the music stops. The greater fool is someone with the perfect blend of self-delusion and ego to think that he can succeed where others have failed. This whole country was made by greater fools.”

And I think he is right. After all, most of history is created by non-conformists, those who know that the right things ought to be done, those that follow decency as their religion, those willing to do whatever it takes to define a legacy. This may be centered around broadcast journalism, but no matter what you do, passion always pays up. So, if the voice in your head is telling you that life sucks, it's time to rethink your purpose. To all others, welcome to the Greater Fools' club.


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