America’s Foreign-Currency Bonds

           Developing countries and smaller developed country governments often issue bonds in other currencies than their own. This allows investors to separate out the credit risk from the currency, inflation, and interest-rate risk of a particular country. An investor in developing country ‘hard-currency’ bonds, for example, can buy such bonds to take a view of the

Britain’s Sinking Fund

           In the late-18th century, Britain was awash in debt. So large was this debt that even relatively cheap financing couldn’t save the British government from interest costs that ate up half of state revenues. To pay down this debt, the country implemented a sinking fund, a fund established to repurchase bonds that had previously been

Venice’s Fiscal Restructurings

           Financial innovations are frequently born of necessity and this is true in public finance just as much as in corporate finance, banking, and beyond. It is often when the public finances are in the most dire shape that creative thinking is most needed. Sometimes, the solutions conjured up set governments on the right course. Though

Paying the Hoplites

           Many industrial and technological advances owe their existence to war and the same is true for financial innovation. In late-17th century England, a financial revolution was triggered in part due to a large European war then underway. The need to fund wars sparked financial ingenuity in more ancient times too. The city-states of classical Greece

Khedives, Canals, Cotton, and Credit

           In the 19th century, control over Egypt fell into the hands of rulers bearing grand ambitions for their country. However, ambitions are expensive and debts mounted as money was poured into new infrastructure projects, most notably the Suez Canal. Egypt was first introduced to the international debt markets while its economy boomed amidst rising prices

The Troika of 1898

           From 2009 to 2015, a troika of organizations were involved in arranging the bailouts of several countries, most notably that of Greece. These entities, the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund, not only lent money to nearly bankrupt sovereign governments but also made aid contingent on policy changes in the rescued countries. The arrangement

Million Adventure Lottery

           At the end of the 17th century, England was facing fiscal strain from decades of political and economic disorders just as it found itself engaged in yet another war against its historic foe, France. However, rather than bring about a default on its debts, the fiscal crisis ushered in an era of financial innovation. It

The Sound Toll

           From the end of the Middle Ages to midway through the Industrial Revolution, ships passing through the narrow strait connecting the Baltic Sea to the North Sea were required to pay a toll to the Kingdom of Denmark. Seems mundane, but for centuries, this toll was perhaps the most controversial in the world, going so

Britain’s IMF Crisis

            Financial crises have the potential to change history. This is obvious in regards to true depressions, like that of the 1930s, but even smaller tremors can change the way economies are managed, or are left unmanaged. One of these lesser crises was the 1976 IMF Crisis in which Britain was forced to seek a

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