Jay Cooke and the Panic of 1873

            The market for railway company bonds grew quickly in the mid-to-late 19th century. Laying new track was very expensive and the returns would not come until a line was completed. For larger projects, such as those rail links crossing an entire continent, this could be years away. Thus, financing was as important an input

July Crisis and the Panic of 1914

           The most significant political and diplomatic crises often have financial repercussions. In the case of the ‘July Crisis’, the series of events which tragically cascaded into the First World War, the financial effects were overshadowed by the more terrible prospect of war itself. Still, the financial events of the summer of 1914 were historically significant

New Zealand’s Long Depression

           The economic fate of Argentina, a foodstuff exporter supporting one of the richest populations just over a century ago, is well known. New Zealand’s late 19th and early 20th century history is similar in many respects. Like Argentina, faraway New Zealand was also exposed to the dramatic fluctuations of commodity prices and financial conditions intrinsic

Finance and the Revolution of 1848

           It is easy to think of economic and financial crises that have had stunning political consequences. Sometimes this goes so far as to turn normally arcane fiscal and monetary questions into objects of fierce public debate. The reverse can also happen. Political events can and have changed the context of economic and financial decision-making with

Bicycle Boom

           Excitement is present in all speculative manias. Sometimes this excitement has only financial origins but widespread financial speculation can spring from enthusiasm for technical innovations or trendy fashions, especially those with the broadest popular appeal and relevance. In the late 19th century, the bicycle industry was benefiting from both changes in technology and fashion and

Financial Crisis of AD 33

           In ancient Rome, lending was often secured by land, at least in the case of large loans to wealthy landowners. Naturally therefore, the credit and real estate markets were closely linked. These links could help propel large fortunes when times were good and could cause trouble when virtuous cycles gave way to spiraling losses, when

Argentina, Barings, and the Panic of 1890

           In search of higher returns elsewhere, European investors in the 19th century increasingly coveted the bonds of South American borrowers. In Argentina, foreign money helped finance national improvements and government deficits. Arranging much of this financing was one of the oldest London merchant banks, Barings Brothers & Co. When the boom years ended and the

Hamilton and the Panic of 1792

           In the early 1790s, the United States was still in the midst of its first presidential administration and still establishing new governing institutions. This process was interrupted briefly by a financial panic in 1792. In a country then just a few years old, expectations for a strong response might not have been high. However, the

The Great Kuwaiti Crash

           In 1982, the third largest stock market in the world crashed, losing 60% of its value over three months. This occurred not in America or Japan, but in Kuwait. The tiny Persian Gulf state of a million and a half people had become enriched by oil money which flooded into its financial sector from investors

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