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Paper money and national distress: William Huskisson and the early theories of credit, speculation and crises
European Journal of the History of Economic Thought
This paper examines the explanation of commercial crises offered by William Huskisson in 1810 in the wake of the debate on the Bullion Report. Huskisson argued that the suspension of convertibility made it possible to extend issues of paper currency beyond its proper limits. Such an expansion, being in the interest of all parties concerned, would actually take place and stimulate excessive speculations, which would eventually prove unsustainable and bring generalized ruin and distress. Although some elements of this explanations were not new (having been anticipated by writers sucha as James Currie in 1793, William Roscoe in 1793, William Anderson in 1797 and an anonymous in 1796), Huskisson's explanation is more systematic and better organized, and his emphasis on the endogenous character of the crisis and on the instability of the dynamics of trade and credit makes it an interesting foreshadower of the theories of crises that were advanced half a century later.
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