Episode 27: The South Sea Bubble

London's history has been punctuated by financial crises. But perhaps one of the most famous crisis in London was The South Sea Bubble in 1720.

Let's get to the bottom of this early 18th century crises with City of London Tour Guide, Ian McDiarmid and London Tour Guide, Hazel Baker

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Recommended readings

The First Crash by Richard Dale

The South Sea Bubble by John Carswell

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What we discussed

Hazel Baker: Hello and welcome to our London History Podcast where we share our love of London, its people, places, and history in 20-minute espresso shot served with a dash of personality. I am Hazel Baker, London Tour Guide and CEO of London Guided Walks.

And don't forget we've launched The Daily London, providing you with daily inspiration of things to do in London for Londoners. You can listen on iTunes, Spotify, or even add it to your Alexa Flash Briefings.

London's history has been punctuated by financial crises. Most recently, we have had the dot com bubble and the 2008 crash. But perhaps one of the most famous crises in London was that of The South Sea Bubble in 1720. Today, I intend to get to the bottom of this early 18th century crises with the help of City of London Tour Guide, Ian McDiarmid.

  • What is The South Sea Bubble?
  • And why is it a bubble?
  • What did the South Sea Company do? Why were people interested in it?
  • What are they trading?
  • What was the second thing that the South Sea Company did?
  • The Bank of England was very new at this point as well. Wasn't it?
  • Did events in France play a role?
  • This popularity is prompted by regular people. This growing class of actually having an extra bit of spare money in their pocket to spend on something. So why not invest it for the future? I mean, how very exciting the first time they can do this kind of thing?
  • We've got some big names though, haven't we? That got involved?
  • It just sounds like a huge mess, doesn't it? Everyone's involved.
  • What made this one so exciting of all the others cause slave trade is wrong. I know it wasn't illegal then, but also there's debt conversion. I mean, what was so attractive for people to get involved?

Ian McDiarmid: South Sea stock were trading at 150. In spite of that, I bought them the following week at 250. They're now 450 and sure enough, they go up to about a thousand. People get dragged in.

Hazel Baker: Call me old fashioned, but I feel really disheartened to think that 300 years on and MPS is still taking bribes for big companies.

Hazel Baker: Cool blimey. That was a lot of content to get into 20 minutes. I hope you all enjoyed it. As you can see, it's a very complicated and very interesting subject. And Ian does a Financial City of London Tour, which you can book online.

If you've enjoyed this podcast, please do leave us a five star review. It will be very much appreciated. And thank you, Kelsey, for taking the time to write a lovely message about what you enjoy about our podcast. So that's enough for now, catch you next week.

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