1/6. I don't think I have ever tweeted on a book footnote before. But while on the train into London, I was re-reading "Devil Take the Hindmost" to refresh my memory of the South Sea Bubble dynamic when one footnote jumped out at me.
2/6. Chancellor starts by looking at John Law's epic Mississippi Company pyramid scheme in 18th century France, the forerunner of the South Sea Bubble. The footnote:
"Law's great error was his confusion of shares with money.....
3/6. ".....Since rising share prices led to the printing of more money, which in turn was ploughed back into shares, there was no limit to the ensuing asset inflation...."
4/6. ".....The same circularity existed during the Japanese "bubble economy" of the 1980s when rising asset prices caused Japanese banks' capital to rise, allowing them to make more loans...."
5/6. "....Most pronounced in these two cases, this circularity is always present in modern financial systems where credit creation is dependent on asset values."
6/6. In our case, of course, it has been Ben Bernanke (with a bit of help from his predecessor and successors) who played the John Law character with relish, stoking up the price of financial assets, and thus creating a bubble circularity that fed upon itself.