ARCHIBALD HUTCHESON’S REPUTATION AS AN ECONOMIC THINKER: HIS PAMPHLETS, THE NATIONAL DEBT AND THE SOUTH SEA BUBBLE

Helen Julia Paul

Abstract


Archibald Hutcheson M.P. (c. 1659-1740) was a British politician who opposed the South Sea Company's scheme to offer holders of British government debt its own shares in exchange for their claims on the state. Hutcheson proposed an alternative scheme to pay off the entire debt by increasing taxes on land. Despite Hutcheson’s opposition to the South Sea conversion scheme, it went ahead, to be followed by the South Sea Bubble and then the bursting of the bubble with the crash of the London stock market in 1720. Scholar Richard Dale has argued that Hutcheson predicted the crash by using sophisticated financial techniques. Refuting Dale’s view, this article argues that Hutcheson’s posthumous reputation as a savant is undeserved.

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