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

Tabloids and Share Tips

            In Britain like other countries, share ownership became much more widespread over the course of the 20th century. The print media responded to this by publishing more content dedicated to investments. In the U.K., even lowbrow tabloids offered extensive financial advice and their role as advisers to their millions of readers continued into the

Dutch Orphan Chambers

           Before capital markets were sufficiently developed to raise large amounts of money but after the point in which even the largest enterprises, governments included, could be funded by a single family, other institutions acted as financial intermediaries. Banks and insurance companies were such intermediaries but before they achieved large size there were institutions such as

France’s Gold-Linked Bonds

           Inflation can destroy the value of long term fixed-rate bonds, especially when that inflation is volatile or rising. If inflation gets out of control, it can become difficult to find willing lenders in a currency people have little faith in. For much of the mid-20th century, France was plagued by inflation that was high by

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

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