In the first half, personal finance writer Zac Bissonnette discusses his new book, The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute, which examines the consumer craze surrounding Beanie Babies. The Ty corporation introduced Beanie Babies in 1994 but they did not catch on until 1996, when adult women in Chicago began seeking the rarer short-run animals to complete their collections, Bissonnette explained. "I wanted to understand what the process is that allows people to buy into a speculative craze and to become so deluded about what has value," he said. According to Bissonnette, it was stories of the prices being paid by these early collectors that lured others into buying Beanie Babies and some to financial destruction.
Ty fed into this craze by creating a speculative rush on Beanie Babies that were soon to be retired from production, he continued. By the end of 1998, retirement announcements no longer moved prices upward and the Beanie Baby bubble finally burst, Bissonnette reported, noting how many people squandered fortunes on this short-lived fad. A retired soap opera star lost his child's six-figure college fund and, in one very disturbing case, an unpaid Beanie Baby debt led to a coworker's murder, he revealed. Bissonnette described how consumer euphoria, mass delusion, and rampant speculation cause bubbles in various sectors. "In the end, when it comes to the kind of psychology of what's driving speculative furors, everything is just a Beanie Baby... the object is sort of incidental," he suggested.
During Open Lines, Kevin told George about a Buy/Sell/Trade call-in radio show he used to work on in his hometown of Sweet Home, Oregon. According to Kevin, callers were allowed to mention any consumer product except wood stoves, firearms, and Beanie Babies. "It almost got to be a Beanie Baby call-in show," he said about the radio program before the prohibition.
Dustin in Bellingham, Washington, phoned the 'Save a Life' line to share how he saved the life of his girlfriend by inadvertently getting her sick. A routine chest X-ray taken at her doctor's office showed that she had breast cancer, Dustin revealed, adding that it was caught early enough to be treated and today she is cancer free.
Anthony from Williamstown, New Jersey, recounted the time he was talking with a friend from another part of the state and noticed his speech pattern change. Anthony said he thought his friend's blood sugar may have dropped dangerously low so he notified police in the area. They broke into the house and got him to a hospital in time to save his live, Anthony said.