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From the late 1990s to 2001, the economy and real estate market went through a rough cycle. To some extent, this was created by the dot.com bubble. (Remember the word “bubble”—it will come up later.) Dot.com companies with limited or no track record or experience were popping up like locusts in a field of corn. The only thing they had going for them was an idea and lots of bravado. Wall Street latched onto them, took them public and soon the general populace was investing in dot.com companies in a buying frenzy.

At its height, it was not unusual for a dot.com stock price to triple or even quadruple in value on the first day of a public offering. Companies gave no projections—if they had, their value could have been quantified, which would have meant their stock prices would have plummeted. Yet, the spin-doctors continued to spin, and eventually everyone got so dizzy that the market collapsed. The commercial real estate market, which rented space to the dot.com companies, followed suit and fell as well.

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