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

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.

Franklin National Bank

            In 1974, a large American bank, Franklin National Bank, failed. Over the coming years, many others would follow. While there were some commonalities between Franklin National Bank and the other banks that failed, this bank was peculiar. It was peculiarly badly managed. What is illuminating though is how bad management seemed to self-perpetuate at

Temple Loans of Classical Greece

            The advent of a market for credit relies on a supply of and demand for surplus financial resources. The demand for credit can be driven by trade or investment or even large consumer purchases. The supply of credit can come from deposits with banks or the reserves of insurance companies. Today, the endowments of

Herstatt Bank and Globalization

           In June 1974, Herstatt Bank, a relatively small German bank, was closed by regulators on account of large losses in the foreign exchange market and murky accounting statements. The potential knock-on effects seemed small. The bank was one that few outside the vicinity of Köln would have heard of. However, because of the manner in

A.P. Giannini and Bank of America

           Banks were formed in increasing number nearly everywhere in the 19th century. They also moved on from their mercantile specialization to serve industrial clients as the Industrial Revolution took off. However, even towards the end of the century, the average worker or small business had little access to banking services. Lacking good collateral for loans

Scotland in the Financial Revolution

           Starting at the end of the 17th century, there was a wave of financial innovation in England. It isn’t often discussed what happened farther north, in Scotland. Scotland too saw a financial revolution, though it was hampered by the relatively small size of Scotland and some crises along the way. Some of these affected England

Shibusawa Eiichi

           In 1850, Japan was an economy intentionally closed off from foreign trade. Even Japanese merchants and bankers were not well regarded in the country, let along foreign ones. By 1900, Japan had come a long way industrially and financially, possessing a developed banking system and large industrial firms. Shibusawa Eiichi was responsible for much of

Geneva, Watches, and Banking

           When cities not previously known as banking and financier centers become such, they usually adopt something from the incumbent financial centers of the era. New banking cities mimic the old and often import talent from them. In the 14th century, Bruges became the first banking center in the north of Europe to match the scale

Jacques Laffitte

           It is easy to overestimate the role finance had in setting off the Industrial Revolution. To some extent, the early stages of the Industrial Revolution took place in spite of the financial system rather than because of it. Industrial enterprises in the first half of the 19th century had little access to the capital markets

Early Soviet Money and Banking

           The general role of banks in free market economies is no mystery. However, listing what a banking contributes to a state-led economy, or even a wholly state-run economy, could require more thought. Thankfully, the early history of the Soviet Union reveals that banks had something to offer even in a system where the state budget

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