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The way we were: financial crises

Extracts from memoirs and diaries

By Ian Irvine   February 2013

The collapse of the South Sea Bubble, 1720, by William Hogarth © AKG-Images

St John Brodrick, an Irish MP, tells his father, the Irish Lord Chancellor, of the collapse of the South Sea Bubble in 1720. The enterprise was founded in 1711 to consolidate and reduce the cost of national debt: “Various are the conjectures why the South Sea directors have suffered the cloud to break so early… They have stretched credit so far beyond what it would bear, that specie proves insufficient to support it. Their most considerable men have…

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