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"Irrational exuberance" is a phrase used by the then Federal Reserve Board Chairman, Alan Greenspan, in a speech given at the American Enterprise Institute during the stock market boom of the 1990s. The phrase was a warning that the market might be somewhat overvalued.


Greenspan's comment was made on December 5, 1996 (emphasis added in excerpt):

The prescience of the short comment—not repeated by Greenspan since—within a rather dry and complex speech would not normally have been so memorable; however, it was followed by immediate slumps in stock markets worldwide, provoking a strong reaction in financial circles and making its way into colloquial speech. Greenspan's comment was well remembered, although few heeded the "warning."

The losses were quickly recouped and eclipsed by the accelerating stock market boom; finally, twelve years after, stocks markets fell below the former level in the fall of 2008. The phrase was notably used by Yalemarker professor Robert Shiller, who titled his book with it in 2000. When the market slumped in the same year, in response to increasing interest rates, the phrase got another popularity boost and was much used in hindsight, to characterize the excesses of the bygone era. In 2006, upon Greenspan's retirement from the Federal Reserve Board, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart held a full-length farewell show in his honor, named "An Irrationally Exuberant Tribute to Alan Greenspan."

It had become a catch phrase of the boom to such an extent that, during the economic recession that followed the stock market collapse of 2000, bumper stickers reading "I want to be irrationally exuberant again" (made by political satirist Zack Exley) were sighted in Silicon Valleymarker and elsewhere.

The phrase was also the official, though less known title of an animutation that made an internet meme of the song "Yatta", sung by Happa-tai (a satirical Japanese pop group composed of popular comedians), and made special use of Greenspan's image (though at one point endorsing Ed Asner for Federal Reserve Chairman). [125033]

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