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A Short History of Financial Euphoria (Whittle) by John Kenneth Galbraith

By John Kenneth Galbraith

With the entire monetary information and adventure of the wizards on Wall road and somewhere else, how is it that the marketplace nonetheless is going growth and bust? How can humans be so prepared to get stuck up within the mania of hypothesis while historical past tells us cave in is sort of bound to stick to? during this primer, the popular economist John Kenneth Galbraith studies the key speculative episodes of the final 3 centuries - from the seventeenth century tulip craze to the calamitous junk-bond follies of the Eighties. His insights supply very important classes on speculative economics, and display conclusively that cash and intelligence will not be unavoidably associated.

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Meanwhile others were seized by the thought that gold might be better than notes. To restore confidence and assure noteholders and investors that a goodly supply of the metal would be forthcoming, a battalion of Paris mendicants was recruited, and the members were equipped with shovels and marched through the streets of Paris as though on the way to mine the metal in Louisiana. It was thought somewhat distressing when, in the next weeks, many of them were seen back at their old haunts. Whatever the facts, there was a run on the bank-people seeking to convert their notes not into the stock of the Mississippi Company but into gold.

It was, by comparison, a rather ordinary, if exceptionally intense, boom and collapse in securities prices augmented by a comprehensive exercise in official bribery, corruption, and chicane. lohn Kenneth Galbraith was of the joint-stock company. Such companies went back a hundred years and more in England; suddenly, nonetheless, they now emerged as the new wonder of finance and the whole economic world. Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford, helped to found the ill-fated South Sea Company. In the early years of the 18th century, there had been some notably imaginative stock promotions or proposals-a company to build and market a typewriter, an enterprise considerably ahead of its time; a project for a subtle machine gun that could fire both round and square bullets, depending on whether the enemy was a Christian or a Turk; a project for a mechanical piano.

It was, in fact, leverage in, at most, a slightly different ~uise. In the 1980s, in what came to be called the mergers-and-acquisitions mania, corporate A Short History of Financial Euphoria raiders and their investment-banking acolytes issued bonds in great volume against the credit of the companies being taken over. Or the managements thus threatened similarly issued bonds to buy and retire the stock of their own companies and so retain control. It was, once again, a time of presumed innovation and adventure.

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