In October 1720, John Hanger, governor of the Bank of England (BoE), and his fellow directors confronted the imminent collapse of the South Sea Company (SSC). The SSC directors urgently appealed to the BoE for funds to prevent collapse. Should the bank rescue the SSC? The answer to this question hinges upon an assessment of the origins of the market bubble, Britain's strategy of creating trading monopolies, the development and role of the new BoE, and Britain's jockeying to be a major power. The B case presents an epilogue.