Medieval Trade Settlement and Credit

            If required to settle every payment immediately, trade can become a very capital-intensive business despite its small margins. This would have been especially taxing back when far longer travel times would have meant inventories had to be held for longer. When metal coins made up most of the money supply, immediate settlement of purchases

A History of Credit Cards in America

            As financial developments came about, they largely became available to businesses before consumers and often to wealthy consumers before the masses. As a result, the most ubiquitous financial products today are often among the newest. Credit cards, particularly general purpose credit cards of the sort familiar to us today, were relatively rare even fifty

A Short History of Bretton Woods

            After the First World War, the world set about restoring the international gold standard that existed before the fighting. It took years to bring to fruition and the restoration fell apart almost as quickly. After the Second World War, the world once again went about recreating a monetary order largely along pre-war lines, albeit

Glarus Fire and Swiss Re

            Growing populations, urbanization, and industrialization led to surging insurance needs in Europe in the 19th century. To meet this need, hundreds of new insurance companies were formed across the continent. However, these same trends also made insurance a riskier business. The growth meant that a factory or town burning down in 1860 could be

Dáil Éireann Loans

             When Ireland took on a renewed struggle for independence around 1920, it came with a need to raise money. So, the rebel government set up a loan drive and built a system of distribution that bore some resemblance to the war loans raised by governments elsewhere just a few years earlier during the First

Penn Central Railroad

           No business is risk free. It is remarkable how even monopolies, whether of a natural sort or those granted by law, are susceptible to challenge. The British East India Company possessed one of the most remarkable monopolies in history and even it struggled to make money for certain long periods in its history. Railroads were

Albert Oustric

            The 1920s saw the emergence of numerous shady characters in the history of finance, the product of a buoyant stock market amidst imbalances beneath the surface. These anti-heroes tended to have something in common, they were really good at raising lots of money. A Frenchman of the period, Albert Oustric, was able to put

Romania’s ‘Caritas’ Scheme

            Like other economies transitioning out of socialism around the same time, Romania in the early 1990s was a fairly dismal place. Offering a bit of hope to many was a local ‘mutual-aid’ financial scheme called Caritas. While appealing to people’s desperation, apathy, and frustrations, Caritas was clearly not a normal financial institution. It promised

Early Banking in Ethiopia

            The first large banks to be founded in a particular country tended to do a bit of everything. They took deposits, made loans, issued banknotes, distributed securities, and more. These functions may have been fulfilled previously by unique actors but large banking firms brought them under one roof and usually on a larger scale.

Wealth in Fin de Siècle France

             At the start of the 19th century, the origin of much of France’s wealth was from land and much of this held by aristocrats. Even in urban and commercial Paris, aristocrats made up a considerable share of the wealthiest residents until well into the century. As the 1800s came to an end though the

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