The Restoration Banker, Edward Backwell

           In 1660, the English parliament invited the exiled royal family to return. Charles II was allowed to rule, ending over a decade of republican administration that began with Parliament’s victory in the English Civil War. The restored king Charles II was, like Charles I, strapped for cash. Temporary relief would periodically come from the considerable

September 1939

           The world changed when Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. The event had consequences in financial markets as well and not only in Germany and the other belligerent countries. In neutral and warring countries alike, central banks and other public authorities addressed the sudden financial problems, most notably in foreign exchange and credit markets. In

The Debtor Duke of Buckingham

           Almost everywhere in Europe, the 19th century saw a decline in the power of the aristocracy. Political change was partly the cause, whether implemented by vote or revolution. However, economic changes underway decreased the relative importance of agricultural wealth. Not only were greater fortunes being made in commerce and new industries but maintaining an extravagant

The Iraq Stock Exchange

           Stock exchanges usually follow, rather than lead, fundamental developments in a country’s financial system. Indeed, up until the late 20th century, relatively few countries even had a single stock exchange. One of these recent introductions to the workings of a stock exchange occurred in Iraq with the founding of the Iraq Stock Exchange very soon

After the Great Fire of London

           In 1666, a fire burned down much of London, leaving tens of thousands homeless and destroying numerous public buildings. The property lost was worth millions of pounds. So, rebuilding was more than a feat in engineering. A financial challenge also needed to be overcome. In the end, the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire

John Jacob Astor

           America’s Gilded Age fortunes are infamous, but much less well known to the average person in America are its early tycoons. Like those of the late 19th century, those of the earlier part of that century benefited from opportunities obvious only in hindsight along with employing at least some questionable practices. John Jacob Astor possessed

Napoleonic Sanctions

           As wars are costly and cannot always be won by military means alone, wars are also economic struggles. Adversaries try to gain the upper hand by embargos and blockades, either in lieu of military action or in addition to it. Unable to defeat Britain by conventional means, Napoleonic France led a front of largely reluctant

Bicycle Boom

           Excitement is present in all speculative manias. Sometimes this excitement has only financial origins but widespread financial speculation can spring from enthusiasm for technical innovations or trendy fashions, especially those with the broadest popular appeal and relevance. In the late 19th century, the bicycle industry was benefiting from both changes in technology and fashion and

Creating the Consols

           For over a century, perhaps the most significant security in the world was the British consol. One consol was just like any other; for most of their history, they paid 3% interest perpetually. Yet, fifty years before their creation, government borrowing in Britain made use of a broad array of different instruments. Nevertheless, history ultimately

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