Silver Thursday

           Inflation erodes the buying power of money and consequently the real value of income producing investments. In the 1970s, rates of inflation rose precipitously around the world. This reduced not just the value of money and long maturity fixed-income securities but even hurt economic performance and an array of other financial assets, including stocks, which

Gold’s Black Friday

           Imagine a cabal of speculators pushing the limits of legality, or even exceeding them, intent on generating great profits for themselves in the blink of an eye. Such stories are many in the history of finance. From insider trading to market manipulation, the pressure to outperform, or even just the allure of riches, have brought

The Fruitful Career of Benjamin Graham

           In numerous respects, Benjamin Graham transformed the investment profession. For decades a superstitious trade practiced by mystics believing the strangest of strategies would bestow them with riches, managing money has become a mathematical profession perhaps excessively at odds with human irrationality. It was Graham, more than anyone else, who made investing and security analysis systematic.

Eastern Bloc Hard Currency Shops

           During their last two decades under socialism, the economies of Eastern Europe struggled with current account deficits and limited access to credit with which to finance them. In most of these countries, this spawned efforts to acquire foreign ‘hard’ currency whenever it entered their borders, undertakings that involved a lot of creative thinking and government

China’s Currency Revolution

           Over the past two thousand years, commerce has transitioned from using metal coins as the principal medium of exchange to using paper banknotes. Paper currencies started off as peculiar local institutions, often conceived as a type of debt obligation, and served as stand-ins for actual coins. Today, they have become the universal norm and are

The 19th Century Eurozone

           In 1992, the Maastricht Treaty committed the European Union to adopting a single currency, the euro. The most immediate precursor to the euro in existence then was the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) which pegged several European currencies to each other, creating a system of fixed exchange rates. The ERM was established in 1979 and disintegrated

New York’s Streetside Exchange

           Due to its age and familiarity, the New York Stock Exchange is often regarded as the city’s most important trading institution and its only stock exchange of historic significance. Whatever innovations it brought to the business of securities trading, the NASDAQ is a youngster by comparison, having been established in 1971. However, for a century,

Albania’s Pyramid Scheme Nightmare

           For many ex-socialist states, the rapid transition to a free-market economy was a calamity. In contrast to slower and more successful transformations, like that of China, the nations of Eastern Europe inaugurated their market economies with deep depressions and high inflation. Some of the blame for the disastrous ‘shock therapy’ that characterized the transformation of

Atlantic Charter, GATT, and the WTO

       Even before the 20th century, punitive restrictions on trade were quickly being lifted. In Europe, tariff barriers had receded significantly since the mid-1800s. However, the trend towards free trade became global and more permanent with the creation of new international organizations after the Second World War. These institutions were born out of the economic and

European Coal and Steel Community

            Whatever its evolution beyond a mere free trade zone, the European Union is nonetheless the product of decades of trade liberalization, today uniting 500 million people in a common market. The trade liberalization seen in 19th century Europe, though it sharply reduced barriers to trade, did not go nearly as far. While the EU is

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