This Time Is Different: An Example of a Giant, Wildly Speculative, and Successful Investment Mania
The literature on manias and bubbles is dominated by spectacular collapses and the question of whether they could have been foreseen. What is not widely known, though, is that there was at least one giant and wildly speculative investment episode that was successful in that it produced above-market profits for original investors. The British railway mania of the 1830s involved real capital investment comparable, as a fraction of GDP, to about $2 trillion for the U.S. today. It faced withering skepticism and criticism, much of it very reasonable, as its supposedly rosy prospects were based on extrapolation from the brief experience of just a couple of successful early railways. Yet by the mid-1840s, it was seen as a success.The example of the railway mania of the 1830s serves as a useful antidote to claims that bubbles are easy to detect or that all large and quick jumps in asset valuations are irrational. This episode also suggests the need to reexamine much of the work on business cycles and the diffusion of technologies. The standard literature in this area, starting from Juglar and continuing through Schumpeter to more recent authors, almost uniformly ignores large investment mania, whose nature does not fit the stereotypical pattern.
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Volume (Year): 10 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
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Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009.
"Varieties of Crises and Their Dates,"
Introductory Chapters,in: This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly
Princeton University Press.
- Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 8973.
- Reinhart, Carmen, 2009. "The Second Great Contraction," MPRA Paper 21485, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Reinhart, Karmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2009. ""This time is different": panorama of eight centuries of financial crises," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 1, pages 77-114, March. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
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