|The marker is located in a pull-out area on the north side of|
IL Route 15, midway between Freeburg and Fayetteville, Illinois.
The Illinois State Historical Society
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.
An Indepth Explanation of the Mississippi Bubble:
Given the potential for profits involved, public demand for shares in the Compagnie des Indes increased sharply, sending the price for a share from 500 to 18,000 livres, which was out of all proportion to earnings. By 1719 Law had issued approximately 625,000 stock shares, and he soon afterward merged the Banque Générale with the Compagnie des Indes. Law hoped to retire the vast public debt accumulated during the later years of King Louis XIV’s reign by selling his company’s shares to the public in exchange for state-issued public securities, or billets d’état, which consequently also rose sharply in value. A frenzy of wild speculation ensued that led to a general stock-market boom across Europe. The French government took advantage of this situation by printing increased amounts of paper money, which was readily accepted by the state’s creditors because it could be used to buy more shares of the Compagnie. This went on until the excessive issue of paper money stimulated galloping inflation, and both the paper money and the billets d’état began to lose their value. Meanwhile the expected profits from the company’s colonial ventures were slow to materialize, and the intricate linking of the company’s stock with the state’s finances ended in complete disaster in 1720, when the value of the shares plummeted, causing a general stock market crash in France and other countries. Though the crash was not directly attributable to Law, he was the obvious scapegoat and was forced to flee France in December 1720. The enormous debts of his company and bank were soon afterward consolidated and taken over by the state, which raised taxes in order to retire it.
John Law and the Mississippi Bubble.
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