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Summary

Financial market bubbles are recurring, often painful, reminders of the costs and benefits of capitalism. While many books have studied financial manias and crises, most fail to compare times of turmoil with times of stability. In Bubbles and Crashes, Brent Goldfarb and David A. Kirsch give us new insights into the causes of speculative booms and busts. They identify a class of assets - major technological innovations - that can, but does not necessarily, produce bubbles. This methodological twist is essential: Only by comparing similar events that sometimes lead to booms and busts can we ascertain the root causes of bubbles. 

Using a sample of 88 technologies spanning 150 years, Goldfarb and Kirsch find that four factors play a key role in these episodes: The degree of uncertainty surrounding a particular innovation, the attentive presence of novice investors, the opportunity to directly invest in companies that specialize in the technology, and whether or not a technology is a good protagonist in a narrative. Goldfarb and Kirsch consider the implications of their analysis for technology bubbles that may be in the works today, offer tools for investors to identify whether a bubble is happening, and propose policy measures that may mitigate the risks associated with future speculative episodes.

The book is published by Stanford University Press. The audiobook is published by University Press Audiobooks.

©2019 Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University (P)2020 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic reviews

"What an engaging book!…It is a joy to read the stories and analysis. Highly recommended!" (Shane Greenstein, Harvard Business School)

"This is must reading for anyone interested in how new technologies develop, how they are perceived when they first occur, and how some generate clear bubbles." (Richard Rumelt, Professor Emeritus, UCLA Anderson)

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