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Isaac Newton once said, “I can calculate the motions of the heavenly bodies but not the madness of people!” Newton was caught up in the South Seas Co. bubble, a shell company opened to buy the debt of England after the War of Spanish Succession, and reportedly lost $4 million in today’s dollars. While Newton is best known for all of his scientific and mathematical achievements, history overlooks the fact that Newton was the master of the Royal Mint during the time of this bubble.

Newton was an insider and should have understood that the South Seas Co. was not mathematically sound. But, the instinctive human drive to achieve wealth without effort kicked in, and Newton, in the weeks preceding the bursting of the bubble, invested and lost along with everyone else.

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Peter Westerman


Credit Union Times

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