Tricentenary of the South Sea Bubble: Economic History Review Virtual Issue

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Abstract

1720 fully deserves its reputation as a watershed moment in financial history: it was the year in which ongoing sovereign debt crises in France and Britain reached a spectacular resolution. But whereas the implosion of John Law’s Mississippi scheme in France led to the reinstatement of pre-1720 levels of public debt, Britain emerged having substantially reduced its debt burden without significantly
increasing future borrowing costs (Quinn and Turner, 2020). The mechanism by which it did so was the South Sea Bubble: a scheme in which holders of government debt traded that debt for shares in the South Sea Company. This scheme was then accompanied by an unprecedented stock market boom. In addition to its significance for Britain’s fiscal development, the South Sea Bubble has provided scholars with valuable evidence on the nature and development of early investment and the (ir)rationality of investors – much of which has been published in the Economic History Review and is part of this Virtual Issue.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
JournalEconomic History Review
Publication statusEarly online date - 27 Apr 2020

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