Financial bubbles are like bad relationships. You often can't tell for sure that you're in one until it's over.
But it's usually pretty easy to see the warning signs, of both bad relationships and bubbles, and brace yourself for the inevitable bout of weeping and binge-eating.
Which brings us to Facebook's IPO, and to The Huffington Post's latest Pulitzer-eligible feature, the Tech Bubble Death Watch.
As you have perhaps heard by now, the social network is about to dump a truckload of shares on the public, in an offering that will value it at more than $100 billion, a number most sentient humans agree is optimistic, to put it charitably. And yet people cannot get enough of this stock.
As you have also maybe heard, everybody and their grandmother thinks this is the sign of a new bubble in technology companies. And you know what? So do we. You can't always trust everybody and their grandmother, but sometimes they are absolutely right.
So this seems like the ideal time to launch what we're calling the Tech Bubble Death Watch. Here's how it works: Using a finely tuned analytical approach (guessing), we assign a numerical value between 1 and 5 to the day's big tech-bubble news. Higher numbers indicate a greater risk that we are in the insane-frenzy phase of the tech bubble. Lower number numbers mean your retirement money is safe for the time being.
So what number does Facebook's IPO deserve? A full-on five. It's just too big of a target for anything lower. This is a watershed moment for the bubble, the only one you can be sure that everybody and their grandmother is aware of.
Sure, sure, you can argue that this is more likely the beginning of the bubble than the end. The stock could well tank tomorrow in its first day of trading, a sign investors are being smarter than we think. Or it could pop for one day, then fall for a while and be propped up by bargain hunters -- again, somewhat rational behavior.
But if we are indeed in a new tech bubble, then this moment will be the one we all remember, like Netscape and Pets.com in Tech Bubble 1.0.
Also, how the heck can we launch a new feature like this with anything less than a five? It is decided. And it is arbitrary, we know, so save your hateful emails.
Let's go to the evidence....MORE