In the space of just a few years, John Law created an entire modern economy : Planet Money John Law killed a man in a duel, brought the first paper money to France, and became one of the richest people in the world. Then it all collapsed.
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The Murderer, The Boy King, And The Invention Of Modern Finance

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The Murderer, The Boy King, And The Invention Of Modern Finance

The Murderer, The Boy King, And The Invention Of Modern Finance

The Murderer, The Boy King, And The Invention Of Modern Finance

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/909876702/909890322" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Casimir Balthazar/Wikimedia Commons
Financial pioneer John Law
Casimir Balthazar/Wikimedia Commons

When you look back at the history of money, you see long periods of time when everything is stable. Then there are these moments when everything just goes bananas and you see massive, dramatic changes in this really short period of time.

For example: John Law was a convicted murderer on the lam when he showed up in France in the early 1700s. In the space of just a few years, he created an entire modern economy — banks, paper money, a stock boom. (Also, he became one of the richest people in the world.)

The story of John Law tells us a lot about how finance still works — and also how it can blow up the world.

Today's show is based on a few chapters of Money: The True Story of a Made-Up Thing, a new book by Planet Money co-host Jacob Goldstein.

Music: "Pamplemousse" and "Meet Me In The Middle."

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