1720: John Law and the Mississippi Bubble (A)
John Law had fled to safety in Brussels, Belgium, in December 1720. His furtive exit from France confirmed for many people that he was a criminal. Yet only months before, he had been hailed as a financial genius and the second most powerful person in France. In four years, he had managed to refinance the nearly bankrupt government of France and in the process created new markets, institutions, and securities. Then a bubble and crash in France's markets turned public opinion against him. In advance of petitioning for a return to Paris, Law needed to prepare a defense. To sustain a return, he would need to assert that the collapse of the Mississippi Company bubble was a matter of external circumstances and bad luck rather than mismanagement or fraud. On what circumstances could he pin the rehabilitation of his reputation?