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Pricing the Future: Finance, Physics, and the 300-year Journey to the Black-Scholes Equation by George Szpiro

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Flowers and Spices
IN THE 1630S AN UNPRECEDENTED FRENZY OF BUYING AND selling seized large parts of the population in Holland. People sold all their belongings and even went into debt in order to invest in a commodity that had no intrinsic value. When investors finally realized this, the price of the commodity plummeted and many lost their assets. To save those clamoring most loudly for protection from further disaster, the government took action, thus worsening the crisis.
What was this article of trade that caught the fancy of investors, speculators, and fortune hunters? Businessmen, mainly from Spain, Portugal, England, and Holland, had been roaming the world looking for extravagant merchandise to take to Europe. Among these luxury items ...

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