The 1820s Mining Stock Bubble (Part I)

            There was a sharp increase in financial globalization in the 19th century and London was the home of much of this. Increasingly, foreign governments were turning to London to raise capital. These included some of the first emerging market sovereign bond issuers, the newly independent countries of the Americas.             However, government bonds were

Hen Fever

           In the history of finance, many diverse objects have become the center of speculative attention, even perishable items. Agricultural commodities have caused investment crazes that boom and bust as dramatically as any. These are not always the major ‘cash crops’ that are obviously commercially important. Included are even novel crops or livestock that, at least

The Shanghai Rubber Boom

           When commodity booms materialize, the effects are felt not only where the sought-after materials are mined or harvested but also in the financial centers of the world, the places where the commodities are marketed and traded and where production and trade is financed and insured. Rubber was a new gold in the late 19th and

Fracking and Finance

           In 2008, the United States produced 18 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Just over ten years later, this had grown to 34 trillion cubic feet. An even more spectacular rise took place in oil production over those years. Much of this growth was the result of new production techniques, namely hydraulic fracturing, that made

South Africa’s Industrial Gold Rush

           The extraction of commodities can be the fuel for financial booms and busts. Whether it be cotton in 19th century Egypt or oil in 20th century Venezuela, commodities have enriched people, firms, and nations, often temporarily. Perhaps some of the most historically memorable commodity booms were the gold rushes of the 19th century, which snapped

India’s Indigo Crash

           Exporting commodities can be a precarious source of riches. From the 20th century to today, oil has been a blessing and a curse to nations that rely on it to sustain their standards of living. In the 17th and 18th centuries, colonialism added an extra dimension to the commodities curse, shaping raw materials booms and

The Saudi-Soviet Cold War

           For most countries, the condition of the public finances is driven by factors as diverse as whether the country is at war or peace, its level of employment, and its demographics. However, for some, the prices of natural resources are also of extraordinary importance. This is especially true for petrostates, nations whose economies are overwhelming

Silver Thursday

           Inflation erodes the buying power of money and consequently the real value of income producing investments. In the 1970s, rates of inflation rose precipitously around the world. This reduced not just the value of money and long maturity fixed-income securities but even hurt economic performance and an array of other financial assets, including stocks, which

Gold’s Black Friday

           Imagine a cabal of speculators pushing the limits of legality, or even exceeding them, intent on generating great profits for themselves in the blink of an eye. Such stories are many in the history of finance. From insider trading to market manipulation, the pressure to outperform, or even just the allure of riches, have brought

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