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

Wimbledon and Finance

           London was the premier financial center in the world in the 19th and early 20th century. This status seemed lost for sure when New York and Tokyo gained share at different points of the 20th century. Indeed, forty or fifty years ago, the prospect of London regaining its past preeminence seemed a remote possibility, if

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

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