Rum and Calabashes

           Far away from sources of foreign monies and lacking their own, early Australia was forced to improvise. Barter was especially impractical and attempts to create a local coinage were unsuccessful until the early 20th century. Banknotes provided the solution for some parts of the country but in remote areas far from any banks, makeshift systems

Ulpian and Roman Annuities

           Life insurance contracts, life annuities, and an array of transactions relating to estates and inheritances are contingent on lifespan. It would make sense that some method of valuing these life-contingent transactions would have been formulated long ago, even in the absence of good demographic data. As it happens, life annuities were common in ancient Rome

Dutch ‘Middenstand’ Banks

           Credit is important for nearly all businesses. Even for companies without a need to finance large projects, like small businesses in capital-light sectors like retail, capital is still tied up in inventories and receivables. Banks can be one source of credit but banks are often disinterested in serving small businesses, as was the case in

George Peabody

           One of the most famous American bankers in history, John Pierpont Morgan, got his start not in New York but in London. There, his father was a partner in a firm founded by another American abroad, George Peabody. Peabody was born poor and received very little education; after finding success in business in America, he

Bank of Credit and Commerce International

           Globalization in finance has allowed the emergence of global banks, able to participate with ease in different markets around the world as barriers to the international flow of capital have been dismantled. However, global banks are not as easily regulated as those constrained to a single country, especially when closer international cooperation amongst regulatory and

The Shanghai Rubber Boom

           When commodity booms materialize, the effects are felt not only where the sought-after materials are mined or harvested but also in the financial centers of the world, the places where the commodities are marketed and traded and where production and trade is financed and insured. Rubber was a new gold in the late 19th and

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

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