Loans and Diplomacy in the 19th Century

           As leading commercial cities developed more active and sophisticated financial markets, some cities became centers for global finance. London and Paris became such cities in the 19th century, serving the financial needs not only of their own countries but even those of the continent and the world. Governments of other countries turned to these cities,

The Domesday Book

           Taxation is a complicated procedure and it takes a reasonably sophisticated government to tax a population by whatever means it pleases. Even modern governments, those of middle-income or wealthy countries included, often struggle to collect certain taxes effectively. In the case of an income tax, an income needs to be validated some way, and this

Peru’s Land Reform Bonds

               State borrowing allows governments to pursue undertakings they would otherwise find impossible. Whether for large infrastructure projects or social reforms, public borrowing can create greater prosperity or expensive mistakes. When the latter are the result and the borrowing was done domestically, the public is hurt doubly, both as borrower and as investor. In the case

London Orphans and Credit

           In the early days of government borrowing, public borrowing went hand-in-hand with estates and inheritances. Bonds and annuities, both means by which states in early modern Europe borrowed, were also convenient ways of transferring wealth to widows and heirs.            Perhaps nowhere was this association clearer than in London, especially in the 17th century. The City

Genoese Finance

           Financial development comes in waves, often washing up in the same place, whether 17th century Holland or 18th century London. In the Late Middle Ages, the centers of European finance were largely in Italy. Many innovations in finance during this era, from bills of exchange to insurance and double-entry bookkeeping to public bonds, either originated

Loyalty Loan

           During the First World War, governments were financially strained to an unprecedented degree by the costs of war. Across Europe, governments introduced new taxes, including income taxes, suspended the link between gold and paper money, and raised new loans by appealing directly to the patriotism of the public. While these drastic maneuvers in times of

Revolution Rentes

           Throughout the 18th century, French public finances teetered on the brink. The state then found itself in deep financial ruin within a few years of the beginning of the French Revolution, culminating in a default on the debt in 1796-97. With this, the outlook for the next century would hardly seem promising. The 19th century

Dialogus de Scaccario

           In the 12th century, a senior official in the English treasury wrote a book describing the inner workings of his institution, likely for the benefit of decades of successors. It is also of great help to historians. The Dialogus de Scaccario, or ‘Dialogue of the Exchequer’, is a window into the English treasury in the

Mobilizing Credit during WWII

           The Second World War not only pulled American economic output closer to its potential capacity, but also transformed its composition. War-related industries were prioritized and the production and consumption of other goods was controlled by rationing. This is fairly well known. What is less well known are the ways credit was mobilized during the war,

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