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Dutch Republic was much stronger in decades after Tulip Mania
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Tue, 30 Sep 2008 02:50:32 -0400



Begin forwarded message:

From: odlyzko () dtc umn edu (Andrew Odlyzko)
Date: September 29, 2008 7:28:28 PM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Cc: v.dekker () trouw nl, dirkvanderwoude () gmail com
Subject: Re: Dutch Republic was much stronger in decades after Tulip Mania

Dave,

For IP, if you wish:

Dirk is absolutely correct.  The Dutch Tulip Mania, in spite of what
Charles Mackay wrote, had a negligible impact on Dutch economic
history.  The Dutch Republic was then on its way towards a leadership
position in terms of technological and economic development, and
the Tulip Mania caused at most a minor hiccup.

At this time, the best treatment of the Tulip Mania seems to be in the
recent book of Anne Goldgar, "Tulipmania: Money, Honor, and Knowledge
in the Dutch Golden Age," Univ. Chicago Press, 2007.  She shows (based
on extensive research in Dutch archives, especially in archives of
court cases, a reflection of one of the few predictable phenomena
of bubbles, namely that lawyers will get rich off of them, and that
those lawyers will dig up some of the most interesting and most
reliable information about the abuses of the bubbles), that the
Tulip Mania was a small affair involving a modest number of people
(most coming from a particular Protestant sect, which was prominent
in the tulip trade).  She found a really delightful tidbit, namely
two tulip traders who ended up in a lawsuit over broken commitments
after the Tulip Mania, and then about a decade later, appeared in
another lawsuit, over another dishonored trading commitment in
tulips.  Interest in tulips survived the Tulip Mania, and fancy prices
were seen later on.  As to whether the Tulip Mania was totally
irrational or not, the debate continues, with some efficient market
theorists indeed arguing that the prices were not crazy, given that
occasionally new varities appeared (in a process not understood in
those days) and attained extraordinary prices.  But there does not
seem to be any ground for the belief that the Tulip Mania affected
the Dutch economy at large.

In general, Charles Mackay's "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the
Madness of Crowds" has been criticized by many historians, and not
just for his treatment of the Tulip Mania.  He was a sensationalist
who relied on secondary and often biased sources.  But in addition to
his many sins of commission, in inaccurate treatment of various
financial and other events, he is (in my opinion) even more at fault
because of his sins of omission.  The first edition of his book was
published in 1841, soon after the huge British investment bubble
of the mid-1820s, and the somewhat smaller bubble of the mid-1830s.
Yet even though he could easily have gathered detailed information
about them, he did not.  (And neither did any other historians, with
just a couple of exceptions.)  And then, when he put out a second,
expanded edition in 1852, he did not bother to devote any serious
attention to the British Railway Mania of the 1840s, the greatest
technology bubble in history, which collapsed just a couple of years
earlier.  And so an opportunity to gather first-hand accounts of
that event was lost.

Best regards,
Andrew




From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Subject: Dutch Republic was much stronger in decades after Tulip Mania
Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2008 11:12:02 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Dirk van der Woude" <dirkvanderwoude () gmail com>
Date: September 29, 2008 11:01:25 AM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Cc: "Dekker, Vincent" <v.dekker () trouw nl>
Subject: Dutch Republic was much stronger in decades after Tulip Mania
Reply-To: dhvanderwoude () gmail com

Dave, for IP if you wish.

Ehrr - the Tulip mania was in 1637 That's several decades
before the real high power of the Dutch Republic, the years it
kept the mightiest ever French King Louis XIV more or less
under it's thumb. In the same periode the Dutch even managed
to conquer the UK, get their Stadtholder William crowned as
king etc. From 1688 for some two years London was patrolled
by Dutch soldiers (or perhaps German soldiers in Dutch pay,
my landspeople always being masters of outsourcing).
So the decay, if there was one, certainly was started by the
tulip mania related.

The influence of the Dutch Republic waned after the 17e century,
however not so much financially. Like up to the mid 1800's all of
the USA debt was to Dutch financers - indeed the first foreign
loan to the USA was 5 million guilders in 1782, secured by
Mr John Adams. Other statistics show that even in the early
1800's the income per capita in the Netherlands was the
second highest of Europe, albeit massively unfairly distributed.

There is another theory, on the waning of the Dutch influence,
to me much more plausible: the Dutch capital and brains in the
mid 1600's and especially after the Glorious Revolution of 1688
moved to the UK. Recently Lisa Jardine in a new book revived
the vision of Charles Wilson in the 40's of last century. Below
some excerpts of a review published this month.

From Amsterdam,
Dirk van der Woude


http://tinyurl.com/3vdfkn
'Going Dutch' is elegant and thought-provoking

By JONATHAN LOPEZ, For The Associated Press Mon Sep 15, 5:47 PM ET

"Going Dutch: How England Plundered Holland's Glory" (Harper. 432
pages. $35), by Lisa Jardine: In November 1688, Prince William of
Orange, the elected leader of the Dutch republic, set sail from the
port of Hellevoetsluis in command of a 450-ship invasion fleet bound
for England.

William's 20,000 troops landed on the coast of Devon, marched to
London and deposed King James II, who was allowed to flee to France
after a brief period of captivity. Coercing the approval of
Parliament, William and his wife then usurped James' throne,
assuming the roles of king and queen of England. Or, at least,
that's one way to describe what happened.

This revisionist account of the Glorious Revolution � a watershed
moment that's more often seen as a rejection of James' abusive rule
by his own subjects � forms the centerpiece of London University
professor Lisa Jardine's elegant and thought-provoking new book,
"Going Dutch," a sweeping chronicle of the intellectual, political
and cultural links forged between England and the Netherlands during
the 17th century.

"Going Dutch" opens with a simple question: Why has the Dutch
invasion of 1688 gone down in the history books as a popular English
uprising? "Why is there no trace of this mighty armada ... in
conventional historical accounts of the so-called 'Glorious
Revolution'?" Jardine asks. "Why are so few of us aware that at the
time of the English Parliament's 'welcoming' of William ... the
country was in the grip of a full-scale military occupation?"

(...) Deftly tracing the movements of people and ideas in fields
ranging from monetary policy to garden design, Jardine evokes a
dialogue of civilizations in which attitudes on both sides of the
Anglo-Dutch divide developed in tandem. She argues that this pre-
existing web of cultural exchange helped smooth over the abrupt
transition from the reign of James to that of William and Mary, and
made it seem, in hindsight, less like a foreign takeover than a
purely internal English dispute.

(...)

In Jardine's view, the English and the Dutch developed a special
affinity that not only brought the two cultures together but also
disqualified other nations, to some extent, from participating in
the conversation. The English, for example, consciously emulated
Dutch financial practices, which were generally acknowledged to be
superior. And as England's financial institutions grew increasingly
similar to their counterparts in the Netherlands, both countries
decreased their transactions with France. The English and Dutch,
Jardine suggests, became birds of a feather who flocked together.

(...)

The subtitle of "Going Dutch," for example, is "How England
Plundered Holland's Glory," but we learn only on page 357 that
Jardine intends this phrase to refer to the declining cultural
influence of the Netherlands and the rising influence of Great
Britain during the 18th century. This discussion, which lies
somewhat beyond the scope and timeframe of "Going Dutch," seems very
much like a movie trailer for an upcoming sequel.




On Mon, Sep 29, 2008 at 3:38 PM, David Farber <dave () farber net> wrote:


Begin forwarded message:

From: "Dave Wilson" <dave () wilson net>
Date: September 29, 2008 9:00:00 AM EDT
To: "David Farber" <dave () farber net>
Subject: tulips

I decided to reread the chapter on the Dutch tulip mania of the 17th
century from a 19th century tome, "Extraordinary Popular Delusions
and the Madness of Crowds" by an English journalist, Charles Mackay
(note that modern free market thinkers believe this account is BS,
because there can by definition be no speculative manias in a free
market). Anyway, I was struck by this paragraph, which details what
happened after a few years when the music stopped and the price of
tulip bulbs stopped going up (the subsequent decline marks,
Britain during the 18th century. This discussion, which lies
somewhat beyond the scope and timeframe of "Going Dutch," seems very
much like a movie trailer for an upcoming sequel.




On Mon, Sep 29, 2008 at 3:38 PM, David Farber <dave () farber net> wrote:


Begin forwarded message:

From: "Dave Wilson" <dave () wilson net>
Date: September 29, 2008 9:00:00 AM EDT
To: "David Farber" <dave () farber net>
Subject: tulips

I decided to reread the chapter on the Dutch tulip mania of the 17th
century from a 19th century tome, "Extraordinary Popular Delusions
and the Madness of Crowds" by an English journalist, Charles Mackay
(note that modern free market thinkers believe this account is BS,
because there can by definition be no speculative manias in a free
market). Anyway, I was struck by this paragraph, which details what
happened after a few years when the music stopped and the price of
tulip bulbs stopped going up (the subsequent decline marks,
coincidentally or not, the end of the Netherlands as a world power):

" At last, however, the more prudent began to see that this folly
could not last for ever. Rich people no longer bought the flowers to
keep them in their gardens, but to sell them again at cent. per
cent. profit. It was seen that somebody must lose fearfully in the
end. As this conviction spread, prices fell, and never rose again.
Confidence was destroyed, and a universal panic seized upon the
dealers. A had agreed to purchase ten Sempers Augustines from B, at
four thousand florins each, at six weeks after the signing of the
contract. B was ready with the flowers at the appointed time; but
the price had fallen to three or four hundred florins, and A refused
either to pay the difference or receive the tulips. Defaulters were
announced day after day in all the towns of Holland. Hundreds who, a
few months previously, had begun to doubt that there was such a
thing as poverty in the land, suddenly found themselves the
possessors of a few bulbs, which nobody would buy, even though they
offered them at one quarter of the sums they had paid for them. The
cry of distress resounded everywhere, and each man accused his
neighbour. The few who had contrived to enrich themselves hid their
wealth from the knowledge of their fellow-citizens, and invested it
in the English or other funds. Many who, for a brief season, had
emerged from the humbler walks of life, were cast back into their
original obscurity. Substantial merchants were reduced almost to
beggary, and many a representative of a noble line saw the fortunes
of his house ruined beyond redemption."

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A successful society is characterized by a rising living standard
for its population, increasing investment in factories and basic
infrastructure, and the generation of additional surplus, which is
invested in generating new discoveries in science and technology.
--Robert Trout





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