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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: August 2020

Chapter 5 - Other People’s Money: The Australian Land Boom

Summary

Chapter 5 examines the bubble that occurred in Australia in the late 1880s. During 1887 and 1888, there was a major bubble in the price of suburban land, particularly in Melbourne. In addition, companies involved in the financing and development of urban land were created at this time and during the first half of 1888, their share prices doubled. After the peak in October 1888, the share prices of these companies and urban land prices fell sharply. We then explain why it took several years for the liquidation of the land boom to affect the wider economy. The chapter then moves on to discuss how the bubble triangle explains this episode. In particular, this was the first major bubble where investors were speculating with other people’s money, provided ultimately by the country’s banks. The spark which ignited the land boom was the liberalisation in 1887 of the restriction on banks’ lending on the security of real estate. This was the final act in a 25-year liberalisation process. The chapter concludes by examining the dire consequences of the bubble. In 1893, the Australian banking system collapsed and, as a result, Australia experienced a very long and deep economic recession