The first tech bubble? 1720

Robin Hanson passes on this well-reasoned argument that tech bubbles preceded dot-coms by several centuries:
Although 1720 is not generally viewed as a period of technological novelty, we argue in this paper that there were at least three critical innovations that took place in a very short span of time; two of which were financial innovations, the other was a major potential shift in the configuration of global trade. The first innovation was financial engineering at a national scale. The Mississippi Company and the South Sea Company issued equity shares in exchange for government debt; in effect converting the national debt into corporate stock. …

The second innovation was an incipient shift in global trade. Both of the companies were set up to exploit trade in the Americas. … The third innovation was also financial. The first publicly traded insurance corporations were chartered in Great Britain 1720, as a result of the Act. As such, they represented a new model of capital formation for maritime insurance firms – in a nation built on maritime trade.
These do seem like indisputably valuable innovations in the long-run (like, say, ATMs, as opposed to securitization).

(or has securitization just passed through its initial collapse, preceding a long and fruitful contribution to human economic activity?)

I would be interested to see similarly far-reaching historical analysis on commodity cycles. I have the impression that real commodity prices have fallen throughout human history, but I lack the facts to back it up.

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