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The Bottom Line: Special "Witch Hunt" Edition

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The frequently, if not actually daily, Minyanville take on news, commentary and opinion from around the world:

According to a Reuters headline that caught my eye, Ken Lay Claims "Witch Hunt" Brought Enron Down. "Enron Corp. was a victim of a "witch hunt" that unfairly criticized the giant energy company's business and drove it toward bankruptcy, former Chairman and Chief Executive Kenneth Lay testified at his criminal trial on Tuesday," the article said.

  • Bottom Line: The Enron Witch Hunt. Unfortunate, to be sure. Let's take a spin through history and look at other famous "witch hunts."


Minyanville's The Bottom Line Presents:
Famous Witch Hunts in Financial History


In 1716 John Law convinced the French government to let him open a bank, the Bank Generale, that could issue paper money. And so he did. Issue paper money that is. And then he issued paper money. Also, he issued paper money and more paper money. After John Law had finally issued enough paper money that inflation suddenly reached 23 percent, a witch hunt ensued.

John Law, witch hunt victim.


The South Sea Company was created in 1711 by Robert Harley and was granted exclusive trading rights in South America. The good fortune of having been granted such exclusive rights by the British government resulted in one thing: the granting of exclusive "stock options" to politicians and the sale of shares to the public. Naturally, the carrying out of a witch hunt of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is ensued.

The South Sea Company, witch hunt victim.

(Chart courtesy Elliott Wave International)

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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