Medieval Annuities

           While lending at interest came under official scrutiny in medieval Europe, annuities did not. Though an annuity is usually thought of today primarily as a tool in retirement planning, in the Middle Ages, annuities were used to raise money for monasteries, property developers, merchants, artisans, landowners, cities, and countries. After receiving official sanction, life and

Sumerian Loans

           Loan contracts date as far back as the 3rd millennium BC and the oldest we know of today come from the same part of the world that gave us the first systems of writing. Examining these records reveals that lending was common even in ancient civilizations, and more surprisingly still, that even in a mostly

Merrill Lynch & Company

           Over the course of the 20th century, courtesy of improvements in communication, and some deregulation along the way, owning shares in listed companies was transformed from a privilege of the wealthy and connected few to something almost as common as a bank account or insurance policy. Yet, in the decade after the stock market crash

Philately and Investment

            Stamp collecting came about soon after the postage stamp itself. While the first postage stamp was introduced in 1840, within twenty-five years one could find for sale in London or Paris some of the earliest stamp albums, catalogues, and magazines. In recent decades, stamp collecting has garnered attention from more than just philatelic enthusiasts;

The Foreign and Colonial Government Trust

           While the 17th and 18th centuries saw the development of new financial institutions, with banks, insurance companies, and exchanges sprouting up, especially in Britain, these inventions generally served the financial needs of relatively few. It was the 19th century when they began to serve even ordinary people, or at least the growing middle classes, in

Quant Quake

           Though it may seem unusual, not all market crashes are obvious at first sight. True, when investors bet a particular investment will appreciate and come to find out they are wrong, the result is usually plainly visible in the price of that investment. However, not all investment strategies are bets that a particular security, or

Father of Venture Capital

           Venture capital is probably regarded as a relatively modern asset class, spurred by the billions of dollars raised for private investments in already valuable firms and the valuations conferred on growing firms in initial public offerings. However, venture capital investing, even early-stage venture investing, has been around since as long as risky new projects have

Art and War

           There has been strengthening interest in alternative investments in the recent past on the part of those willing to dabble in less liquid and professionalized asset classes. Among these alternative investments are collectables, from stamps to cars. It is art however, and paintings in particular, that get the most regular attention thanks to the price

Keynes the Investor

           To the extent he is known to those outside his discipline, the economist John Maynard Keynes is probably known as just that, an economist. That his ideas have come and gone and come around again, if not entirely unknown among practitioners of finance, is at least regarded as tangential to the day-to-day responsibilities of investors.

The First Mutual Fund

           Perhaps the most widely practiced approach to investing today is by doing so through a mutual fund of one form or another. This is perfectly sensible; someone without a lot of money to invest would be greatly handicapped if the diversification benefits of mutual funds were unavailable to them. Exactly how much money is invested

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