The speculative episode; the common denominators; the classic cases I - the tulipomania, John Law and the Banque Royale; The classic cases II - the bubble; the American tradition; 1929; October redux; reprise.
John Kenneth Galbraith was born in 1908 in Ontario, Canada. He earned a PhD at the University of California in 1934 and later took a fellowship at Cambridge, where he first encountered Keynesian economics. At different points in his life he taught at both Harvard and Princeton, and wrote more than forty books on an array of economic topics. During World War II he served as deputy head of the Office of Price Administration, charged with preventing inflation from crippling the war efforts, and also served as the US Ambassador to India during the Kennedy administration. He passed away in 2006.
No matter what your political leanings or economic beliefs might be, there is no denying that Galbraith is a brilliant writer. In this humorous and thoughtful book, he traces the investor ``herd'' mentality from Tulipomania, which gripped Holland in the 1630s, through a variety of events and up through the 1987 stock market debacle--which he accurately predicted. Galbraith analyzes the crashes that resulted from these speculative episodes, and he points out that the ``mass escape from sanity by people in pursuit of profit,'' which, in his opinion, is always the cause, is never blamed. A truly excellent book, this is highly recommended.-- C. Christopher Pavek, Putnam, Hayes & Bartlett, Inc. Information Ctr., Washington, D.C.
Galbraith's entertaining, wonderfully instructive cautionary essay should be required reading for investors. His focus is ``recurrent lapses into financial dementia,'' reckless speculative episodes fueled by greed, euphoria and investors' delusion that their temporary good fortune is due to their own superior financial acumen. The renowned Harvard economist chronicles a series of ``flights into mass insanity,'' from wild speculation in tulip bulbs in 17th-century Holland through the U.S. stock market crash of 1929, the 1980s mergers-and-acquistions mania and the savings and loan scandal. Comparing these crises, he finds recurring common features, such as evasion of hard realities, new financial instruments presumed to be of stunning novelty and debt that became dangerously out of scale in relation to the underlying means of payment. His proposed remedy is ``enhanced skepticism'' on the part of investors and the public. (June)