Thursday, March 20, 2014

Antoin E. Murphy, Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin is the author of numerous books and articles, including John Law: Economic Theorist and Policymaker (Oxford University Press, 1997). He reviews William N. Goetzmann, Catherine Labio, K. Geert Rouwenhorst and Timothy G. Young, editors: “The Great Mirror of Folly: Finance, Culture and the Crash of 1720” (New Haven: Yale University Press), 2013. xiv + 346 pp. (ISBN: 978-0-300-16246-2) for the Society Of Economics Societies (SHOE) @EH NET.
“History had been replaced by mathematical modelling; antiquarian books had been discarded and libraries holding them downgraded; the past was seen as no predictor of the future. But of course history does have a tendency to repeat itself. Remove the wigs from the eighteenth century bankers, financiers and traders and replace them with mobile phones and one finds essentially the same type of agents with all their excessive hype that characterized recent financial markets not just in New York but across the globe. The Great Mirror of Folly of the eighteenth century has most certainly been mirrored in the follies at the start of the twenty-first century. If one accepts this view then there are still important roles for antiquarian books, specialist libraries, economic historians and historians of economic thought to highlight how apparently rational people become irrational, inhabiting asset market bubbles that have huge economic and social costs when they burst. So take a bow Yale along with the editorial team that published this book.”
This is a positive comment on part of a problem that has bothered me for years, since I retired and had time to look around what has happened to all the certainties of economics that once constituted that “glad, confident mornings” (now no more) of my chosen academic discipline in the 1960s.
Its been a busy retirement lately, This afternoon (Scottish time) I completed a final ms of a new chapter for a new book for A Palgrave Collection (hence a shortage of posts these last two weeks).  There’s now more in the pipeline. Promise!


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