Perhaps the most peculiar feature of a financial bubble - one that Charles Kindleberger's classic work Manias, Panics and Crashes draws particular attention to - is the inability of those trapped inside it to grasp the seriousness of their predicament. They know in principle that bubbles exist, and they know that the financial crashes that result from them are capable of destroying individuals' wealth and entire economies. Yet whenever and wherever a bubble begins to form, we're told that this time things are different, that there are sound reasons to continue to invest and to presume that prices will continue to rise steadily forever.
Kindleberger's achievement is to use the critical thinking skill of evaluation to examine this strange mindset and the arguments advanced in support of it. He harshly judges the acceptability of the reasons used to create such arguments, and highlights the issues of relevance and adequacy that give us every reason to doubt them. Kindleberger also uses his powers of reasoning to effect an unusual achievement - writing a work soundly rooted in economics that nonetheless engages and convinces a non-specialist audience of the correctness of his arguments.
Dr Nicholas Burton holds a degree in economics from Bowdoin College, Maine, and a DPhil in English literature from Oxford. An award-winning playwright who has taken on subjects as diverse as the financial crisis and the lives of the Romantic poets, he currently lectures on play-writing at Royal Holloway, University of London, and is the Creative Arts Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford.
Ways in to the text Who was Nicholas Pierpan? What does Manias, Panics and Crashes say? Why does Manias, Panics and Crashes matter? Section 1: Influences Module 1: The Author and the Historical Context Module 2: Academic Context Module 3: The Problem Module 4: The Author's Contribution Section 2: Ideas Module 5: Main Ideas Module 6: Secondary Ideas Module 7: Achievement Module 8: Place in the Author's Work Section 3: Impact Module 9: The First Responses Module 10: The Evolving Debate Module 11: Impact and Influence Today Module 12: Where Next? Glossary of Terms People Mentioned in the Text Works Cited