South Sea Bubble

Definition of 'South Sea Bubble'


One of the largest stock scams of all time. The U.K.-based South Sea Company's shares saw a huge appreciation based on rumor, speculation and false claims before plummeting and eventually becoming worthless. Thousands of people lost their life savings.

Investopedia explains 'South Sea Bubble'


The scam occurred in 1720, when South Sea's stock soared in the wake of speculation and greed surrounding the monopoly the South Sea Company was perceived to have in the shipping and trade industries, particularly in Mexico and parts of South America.

With nothing to prevent it from doing otherwise, South Sea Company's management continued to issue shares in response to seemingly insatiable demand. As a result, the stock's price soared, defying all fundamental sense. Eventually, the truth was exposed: the company was making virtually no profit, and the share price plummeted when investors fled. In the post-Enron investing world, some have dubbed this scam the "Enron of England".


Filed Under: ,

comments powered by Disqus
Hot Definitions
  1. Aggregate Risk

    The exposure of a bank, financial institution, or any type of major investor to foreign exchange contracts - both spot and forward - from a single counterparty or client. Aggregate risk in forex may also be defined as the total exposure of an entity to changes or fluctuations in currency rates.
  2. Organic Growth

    The growth rate that a company can achieve by increasing output and enhancing sales. This excludes any profits or growth acquired from takeovers, acquisitions or mergers. Takeovers, acquisitions and mergers do not bring about profits generated within the company, and are therefore not considered organic.
  3. Family Limited Partnership - FLP

    A type of partnership designed to centralize family business or investment accounts. FLPs pool together a family's assets into one single family-owned business partnership that family members own shares of. FLPs are frequently used as an estate tax minimization strategy, as shares in the FLP can be transferred between generations, at lower taxation rates than would be applied to the partnership's holdings.
  4. Yield Burning

    The illegal practice of underwriters marking up the prices on bonds for the purpose of reducing the yield on the bond. This practice, referred to as "burning the yield," is done after the bond is placed in escrow for an investor who is awaiting repayment.
  5. Marginal Analysis

    An examination of the additional benefits of an activity compared to the additional costs of that activity. Companies use marginal analysis as a decision-making tool to help them maximize their profits. Individuals unconsciously use marginal analysis to make a host of everyday decisions. Marginal analysis is also widely used in microeconomics when analyzing how a complex system is affected by marginal manipulation of its comprising variables.
  6. Treasury Inflation Protected Securities - TIPS

    A treasury security that is indexed to inflation in order to protect investors from the negative effects of inflation. TIPS are considered an extremely low-risk investment since they are backed by the U.S. government and since their par value rises with inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, while their interest rate remains fixed.
Trading Center