The time of profit-taking comes, and prices react. This is misunderstood by the French, and they become alarmed. They swamp the market once more with their holdings, and this time it brings about the collapse. Or it may still do nothing of the kind, for we may still be light-hearted and hopeful. Or, as I have said, we may also be alarmed, and, once that alarm seizes us, it spreads rapidly, and there is no power that can stay its devastating course. There is a wide-spread panic. The boom collapses, and leaves behind it its heritage of loss and ruin. So we can see how difficult it is to diagnose the situation. We, of course, know that the collapse will come some day or other. A boom is of its nature temporary; but it may last a month, or a year, or two years. We cannot calculate with certainty. We know that the speculation will put definite causes at work, but we cannot always foresee the effects of them, and especially not forecast the precise moment when they will come into being.

Another cause may be an unexpected movement in the United States. Co-temporary with the boom in mining shares there may be a boom in American rails in Wall Street. People may speculate on the strength of prospective good crops, or on a marked revival in trade, or on the general prosperity of the country. Money may be cheap and plentiful, with the prospect of gold having to be shipped from Europe to pay for its corn and wheat. But that boom may be short-lived; the optimism may not be justified; all the hopeful anticipations may be upset by unforeseen events. A sudden change in the weather might do it, or a fight between rival railway factions. And such a collapse would affect the market in London. American rails would fall, and that would enforce realizations in other markets to meet differences, and most likely of all in the mining market. Those realizations would probably precipitate a slump here, and the slump might generate a panic, and a panic would mean the collapse of the boom. Therefore the foundation of a boom has infinite ramifications, and the weakness of one may readily bring about the collapse of the whole. We may carefully examine those ramifications from time to time, but the weakness may be undetected, or it may suddenly develop itself, and thus make any such examination futile.

We often read in our newspaper articles of one market reacting upon another, or one market sympathizing with another, and this is one phase of it. This sympathy, as it is called, is therefore another strong market influence, and should be duly calculated on. This undoubtedly has likewise its source in temperament. For instance, there may be a revival of activity in the South African market, and the most is made of it. It may be started by the professionals, with the object of attracting the public, and that object, say, is attained. The public conclude from this that their opportunity has come at last. They have been merely waiting for someone to take the initiative, and, once the movement is started, they hasten to take their part in it, and to be in the swim at the earliest moment, or they may lose many golden opportunities. At first the activity is confined, say, to outcrops, and prices correspondingly appreciate. But as the activity grows and the movement extends, it is found to be confined within too narrow an area in outcrops. The opportunities here, owing to the inflation of the shares, become restricted, and hence further scope for speculation is sought elsewhere. It overflows, therefore, into the deep level section. Then, when eventually the scope here has become too restricted, Rhodesian shares are selected as mediums of speculation. Thus, Rhodesians are said to sympathize with or to share in the activity which has developed in the Kaffir market. Later on it may overflow into the West Australian or the miscellaneous sections, for the public are fully infected with the fever of speculation. They couldn't resist it if they tried. Everybody sees that everybody else is making money, and thinks he can make money, too. Thousands are attracted who have never speculated in mining shares before. They become discontented with the small yields they have been receiving on their investments, and envious of those who are speculating with such success. The numbers thus gradually swell. There is no such thing as discrimination, because discrimination must come from knowledge and experience. Mining shares are the things to buy, and therefore anything in the shape of a mining share is acceptable. West Australian shares are said to be a good tip, and therefore they speculate in West Australian shares. Thus the speculation spreads, and this spreading is called sympathy by financial journalists, although the only sympathy shown is the eagerness to buy shares at certain prices and resell them to others at higher prices. When there is activity in Kaffirs speculators do not pity Rhodesians for being left out in the cold, and sympathetically come to their assistance. Nor do they say: 'Poor Westralians I how forlorn and wretched they look! Why should all this fuss be made over Kaffirs, and West Australians be neglected? Let us give them a chance, poor things! for they deserve it quite as much as the others.' No sentiment, no sympathy of this kind animates speculators, and, therefore, if the inexperienced read a meaning of this kind into the word 'sympathy,' it would be a fallacious interpretation. It means only an overflow of activity, a search after further opportunities of speculation, without regard to intrinsic values or merits of shares. International politics are a further influence, and have a most potent sway over the entire Stock Exchange. One given influence may affect one market only, but politics affect all markets alike, and therefore the successful speculator, and even the investor, should make a study of international politics. In times of peace, when all nations are apparently in accord with each other, and the relations between them are friendly, then the Stock Exchange pursues its normal course, uninfluenced by the political outlook, except it be favourably. But let there break out a sudden quarrel, or possibility of a quarrel, such as we have experienced from time to time in the Far East, then the Stock Exchange becomes nervous and excited, which, of course, is only a reflection of the nervousness and excitement that has seized the nation as a whole.