Tulips to Plywood Palaces: Bubbles in Theory and History

EH476 — with Douglas E. French

Dates: -
Status: Closed

Doug French, president of the Mises Institute, will teach a nine-week course, June 1-August 2, 2010, based on his book Early Speculative Bubbles and Increases in the Supply of Money (Mises Institute 2009). Applying the Austrian theory of money, banking, and business cycles, he will examine the economic, social, and cultural signs of bubbles, examine their causes and the responses, and deal with the spectacular rise and fall of housing and others markets in our own time. He covers Tulipmania, the South Sea bubble, the Mississippi bubble, John Law’s monetary theories and more.

He will offer a narrative of each event with a special focus on the cause and effect. The conventional view is that bubbles in history represent a kind of mass hysteria rooted in animal spirits or irrational exuberance – and that each represents a failing of the market to rationally stabilize investment. French will examine the monetary angle to show that bubbles have a more fundamental relationship to monetary inflation.

Weekly Topics:

  • Austrian Business Cycle Theory vs. Rational Expectations and Keynesian theory in explaining bubbles.
  • The Mississippi Bubble
  • John Law Envy – The South Sea Bubble
  • The Roaring ’20s – stocks, land, and skyscrapers
  • Land of the Rising Stock and Property Prices – The Japanese Experience
  • American’s Bubble Economy: .com stocks to the Vegas Strip
  • Tulipmania
  • The next bubble and bust: government paper and Chinese bricks


A full hyper-linked syllabus with readings for each weekly topic will be available for all students.

Live Class Session Hours:

Wednesday evening 6-7 pm CDT.

Books Available at the Mises Store

Several excerpts from the following books are assigned readings in this course. (Note: Purchasing these books is NOT required. All readings in this course are available online for free.)

The primary text for the course will be French’s book Early Speculative Bubbles and Increases in the Supply of Money.

Economics and the Public Welfare by Benjamin Anderson

Final Grade, Transcript, and Certificate of Completion

The final grade will depend on a midterm exam, a final exam, participation, and other criteria. Students will have access to a digital transcript for the course. We will add any future grades for future Mises Academy courses taken to this transcript. Students will also receive a digital, printable Certificate of Completion.

Refund Policy

If you drop the course during its first week (7 calendar days), you will receive a full refund.
If you drop the course during its second week, you will receive a half refund.
No refunds will be granted following the second week.


Douglas E. French

President of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He received his master’s degree under the direction of Murray N. Rothbard at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, after many years in the business of banking.

He was a major supporter of the Mises Institute in the years leading up to assuming the position of president of the Mises Institute in 2009. His dramatic expansion priorities include development in every area of the Mises Institute’s educational mission, online and at our physical location.

He is the author of Early Speculative Bubbles, the first major empirical study of the relationship between early bubbles and the money supply.

See Mises articles and talks by Doug French:

Daily Article Archive
Media Archive
Literature Archive

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