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Tim Harford tries to sort fact from fiction in the story of the Netherlands' 'tulip mania'. Was this the first great financial bubble?

In the 1630s, the Netherlands experienced 'tulip mania' - a surge in demand for tulips from wealthy buyers, with some individual bulbs costing twenty times more than a carpenter's annual salary. Then, in February 1637, the price suddenly crashed. It's often cited as the first great financial bubble, but is that really the case? Tim Harford tries to sort fact from fiction.

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10 minutes

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Mon 3 Feb 2020 04:50GMT


Charles Mackay Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds 

Mike Dash Tulipomania Phoenix: London 2003

Anne Goldgar Tulipmania: Money, Honor and Knowledge in the Dutch Golden Age University of Chicago Press: Chicago 2007

Stephen Moss “The Super-studs: Inside the Secretive World of Racehorse Breeding” The Guardian 28 October 2009

Peter Garber “Famous First Bubbles” Journal of Economic Perspectives Spring 1990 and “Tulipmania” Journal of Political Economy 1989

James McClure and David Chandler Thomas “Explaining the timing of tulipmania’s boom and bust: historical context, sequester capital and market signals” Financial History Review 2017

Andrew Odlyzko “Collective hallucinations and inefficient markets: The British Railway Mania of the 1840s” Working Paper School of Mathematics and Digital Technology Center University of Minnesota, 2010


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