The jargon of economics and finance contains numerous colorful terms for market-asset prices at odds with any reasonable economic explanation. Examples include "bubble," "tulipmania," "chain letter," "Ponzi scheme," "panic," "crash," "herding," and "irrational exuberance." Although such a term suggests that an event is inexplicably crowd-driven, what it really means, claims Peter Garber, is that we have grasped a near-empty explanation rather than expend the effort to understand the event.
Robert Flood and Peter Garber confess to a "fixation on understanding extreme events" such as speculative bubbles, currency reforms, and speculative attacks on fixed exchange rate regimes and metallic monetary standards -- all markers of economic change. This book brings together their research in these areas during the 1980s and early 1990s, highlighting in particular the close relation of their work on bubbles to that of policy switching, or understanding the impact of prospective and past policy changes on individual economic behavior.