The tulipmania: Fact or artifact?

Abstract

The famous tulipmania, which saw the reported prices of several breeds of tulip bulbs rise to above the value of a furnished luxury house in 17th century Amsterdam, was an artifact created by an implicit conversion of ordinary futures contracts into option contracts in an imperfectly successful attempt by Dutch futures buyers and public officials to bail themselves out of previously incurred speculative losses in the impressively price-efficient, fundamentally driven, market for Dutch tulip contracts. There was thus nothing maniacal about prices in this period. Despite outward appearances, the tulipmania was not a bubble because bubbles require the existence of mutually-agreed-upon prices that exceed fundamental values. The “tulipmania” was simply a period during which the prices in futures contracts had been legally, albeit temporarily, converted into options exercise prices.

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Correspondence to Earl A. Thompson.

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Thompson, E.A. The tulipmania: Fact or artifact?. Public Choice 130, 99–114 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11127-006-9074-4

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Keywords

  • Public officials
  • Legislatures
  • Instability
  • Herd effects
  • Tulipmania
  • Holland
  • 17th century
  • Futures contracts
  • Options contracts
  • Thirty Years War
  • Black-Scholes
  • Breeders markets
  • Equilibrium price paths