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

Revenue Act of 1913

           The roots of globalization, which has defined the world economy for at least the last 30 years, extend far back. Along with improvements in logistics and the spread of capitalism, the recipe for globalization called for reductions in tariffs and other trade barriers. Already in the mid 19th century, tariff barriers were coming down across

Cobden-Chevalier Treaty

           As the Industrial Revolution spread throughout Europe and beyond in the 19th century, so did new approaches to economic thinking. Protectionism was slowly but steadily going out of vogue, and free trade, or at least liberalized trade, was making headway. In Britain, the repeal of the Corn Laws in the 1840s was a major turning

Corn Laws and Free Trade

            Free trade is often associated with late-20th century globalization. The creation of large continental trade associations like NAFTA, Mercosur, and the EU lead many to consider trade liberalization to be a recent phenomenon. The truth is that free trade, and the economic rationale behind it, had its birth in the 19th century with the decline

Orphaned Soviet Bonds

            The ability of financial markets in a free-market system to raise capital is virtually unrivaled. So much so that even communist governments have turned to them for loans. The Soviet Union was no stranger to the sovereign debt markets and the Soviet state raised money by selling bonds in Western financial capitals during the last

The Medici Bank and Letters of Credit

           The 17th and 18th centuries saw financial innovations whose creations have direct heirs today, from the modern deposit bank to the joint-stock company. However, it would be incorrect to imply that these institutions were the first of their kind. When it comes to banking for example, older Renaissance-era institutions made substantial breakthroughs and while that

The Stock Ticker

           The flow of information is an important part of any financial system. Whether it be in the agglomeration of important institutions in a single financial center or the communications technology used, the need for information has left its mark on financial services. For centuries, business could only be done as quickly as a courier’s legs

The 370-Year-Old Infrastructure Bond

           There aren’t very many financial instruments, especially bonds, that distributed income to investors for over a century. The relatively few that exist are usually perpetual bonds, those without any maturity date at all. Today, they are a relatively small category of bonds available to investors. However, there was a time when perpetual bonds were the

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