Listen: Historian Robert Duplessis Talks Economic Bubbles with Mitchell Hartman '85

Alisa Giardinelli

Listen: Historian Robert DuPlessis Talks
Economic Bubbles with Mitchell Hartman '85

by Alisa Giardinelli
4/20/2010

Robert Duplessis

 Robert DuPlessis

Robert DuPlessis, Isaac H. Clothier Professor of History and International Relations, recently discussed economic bubbles with Marketplace's veteran reporter and editor Mitchell Hartman '85. According to DuPlessis, "jumping in" can be rational, and even profitable. In describing the "Greater Fool Theory" to his former student, he said:

"You know that you're being a fool, as it were, to engage in the market, because the price is clearly out of whack with fundamentals. On the other hand, you count on there being a quote 'greater fool' who will buy it at a yet more inflated price."

Dean Baker '80, co-founder and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and another of DuPlessis' former students, also weighed in:

"The people I really blame in this story are people like myself, economists. When they should have been yelling at the top of their lungs, raising warning flags, saying, 'This can't go on. It's going to end badly,' they were doing the opposite. We're supposed to be the experts and the experts totally blew it."

DuPlessis teaches courses and seminars on Europe and the Atlantic world between the 15th and 18th centuries, including courses on the Italian Renaissance, witchcraft, and the development of capitalist economies.