The History of Economic Thought
Online ISSN : 1884-7358
Print ISSN : 1880-3164
ISSN-L : 1880-3164
Investigation of Speculation Theories in the United States from 1886 to 1922
Toshihiko Koshida
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2012 Volume 53 Issue 2 Pages 59-75


This paper is intended to investigate the specula-tion theories discussed from the end of nine-teenth century to the early years of the twentieth century in the United States. During that period, business transactions such as futures trading, short selling, and settlements without any deliv-ery of properties were regarded as gambling or wagers, and therefore these transactions were prohibited by statutes in many states. However, some economists and finance professionals tried to justify these speculative transactions by argu-ing that there was a difference between specula-tion and gambling. In this paper, I investigate the arguments by H. C. Emery, A. T. Hadley, T. F. Woodlock, S. S. Pratt, H. Dewey, and J. E. Meeker, through which they all tried to distin-guish speculation from gambling and supported speculative transactions. This research is significant because of two points. First, the discussion about the difference between speculation and gambling in the United States at that time can be adapted to the present evaluation of speculation. Second, it is clear that speculation theories at that time had an impor-tant role in the birth of risk theory and insurance theory in the United States. JEL classification numbers: B 19, N 21.

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© 2012 The Japanease Society for the History of Economic Thought
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