Ship Finance through Boom and Bust

             Ships are large expensive assets that are financed over long periods of time. Therefore, in the case of warships, they are physical expressions of a state’s fiscal power. Meanwhile, cargo ships, including tanker ships, require private financing which has been leveraged to greater degree just in the past sixty years or so. However, shipping

Medieval Trade Settlement and Credit

            If required to settle every payment immediately, trade can become a very capital-intensive business despite its small margins. This would have been especially taxing back when far longer travel times would have meant inventories had to be held for longer. When metal coins made up most of the money supply, immediate settlement of purchases

British Capital and American Cattle

            Population growth and rising living standards increased demand for meats in Britain during the Industrial Revolution; however, diseases that reduced cattle herds meant more imports were needed to satisfy demand. Some of this demand was met by imports of fresh beef from America. This was extraordinary considering that up to this moment in history,

16th Century Seville

            For the most part, the financial history of Europe, and perhaps its commercial history generally, from the 14th century to the 19th century, is a northward travelogue as the paramount financial center moved from the cities of Northern Italy to those of the Low Countries and then to London. However, a caveat to this

The Sassoons

           Over the course of the 19th century, the world economy was shaped by an increasing dose of globalization. This was not a new trend. However, for the first time, the world economy was also subject to simultaneous liberalization. International trade had been very restricted up until the early 19th century, the preserve of state-backed official

Canton System and Hong Merchants

           It is understandable to presume, when the world first became better connected by trade, that this trade was an unregulated free-for-all. However, though governments then might have been weaker than those of today, they were if anything even more motived then than now to regulate and control trade. This was true in Europe, where governments

William Paterson

        During the Financial Revolution that got underway in the 1690s, England and Scotland were linked by an integrated financial and mercantile community and a free flow of ideas. This helps explain how it was that the Bank of England and the Bank of Scotland could be formed almost simultaneously. Also, Scots in London, including one

Finance and Medieval Fairs

             Before the advent of the first specialized trading cities like Bruges, Antwerp, and Amsterdam, trade in Europe relied on a system of fairs that followed the same circuit each year. In the Middle Ages, these fairs brought together merchants from much of Europe. Conducting trade over such long distances at larger scale increased the demands

London Bills and World Trade

           Trade is capital intensive, even more so when transit times are slower or the distances vaster. Products sitting in warehouses, ships, and ports are deadweight, tying up capital until they are finally sold and used. Merchant banks, as their name implies, serve merchants and for centuries that meant devising a solution to the financial problems

From Debtors’ Prison to Bankruptcy

           Bankruptcy gives debtors a reprieve from their creditors by allowing an orderly liquidation of assets or a restructuring, often alongside a reduction or complete discharge of remaining debts. Usually a sign of financial defeat, it can be easy to forget that bankruptcy is a protection largely provided to the borrower and not the creditor. Before

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