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The Bubble Act: Its Passage and Its Effects on Business Organization

  • Ron Harris (a1)

By surveying contemporary sources this article reveals direct evidence for the involvement of the South Sea Company in the passage of the Bubble Act. The dominant position of the Company and of its national debt conversion scheme in the affairs of England in 1720 support the conclusion that the act was in fact a piece of special-interest legislation for the Company. The short-term interest that motivated the enactment, together with the limited legal and economic effects of the act, minimized its significance as a turning point in the long-term development of the English joint-stock company.

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William J. Baumol , “Entrepreneurship: Productive, Unproductive, and Destructive,” Journal of Political Economy, 98 (101990), pp. 893921.

Henry N. Butler , “General Incorporation in Nineteenth Century England: Interaction of Common Law and Legislative Processes,” International Review of Law and Economics, 6 (121986), pp. 169–87.

Henry N. Butler , “Nineteenth-Century Jurisdictional Competition in the Granting of Corporate Privileges,” Journal of Legal Studies, 14 (011985), pp. 129–66.

B. C. Hunt , The Development of the Business Corporation in England, 1800–1867 (Cambridge, MA, 1936).

J. H. Plumb , The Growth of Political Stability in England, 1675–1725 (London, 1967).

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The Journal of Economic History
  • ISSN: 0022-0507
  • EISSN: 1471-6372
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-economic-history
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