By Levenson, Thomas
In the summer of 1720 Britain was gripped by stock-market mania, the first truly modern speculative bubble. The South Sea Company, a group of entrepreneurs and fraudsters, had bribed officials and politicians in order to take the national debt off the government's hands. They pro...mised to pay investors an interest rate that proved impossible to achieve, and flooded the market with shares that were traded at ever-higher prices. The inevitable crash almost bankrupted the country. But out of this near-disaster a different idea of money and of investment banking was born. These were the concepts, derived from the scientific revolution centred on London and Cambridge, that underlay the vertiginous rise of capitalism and empire in eighteenth-century Britain.Read more
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Thomas Levenson is the author of Newton and the Counterfeiter, a bestselling book about Newton's time as Master of the Royal Mint. He published The Hunt for Vulcan with Head of Zeus in 2016, a book shortlisted for the Science Book Prize. He teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a frequent visitor to London.
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