Franklin National Bank

            In 1974, a large American bank, Franklin National Bank, failed. Over the coming years, many others would follow. While there were some commonalities between Franklin National Bank and the other banks that failed, this bank was peculiar. It was peculiarly badly managed. What is illuminating though is how bad management seemed to self-perpetuate at

London, Telegraph, and the World

            Improvements in infrastructure had tremendous effects on both trade and finance, perhaps most notably in the 19th century. Canals and railways first connected cities within countries and then connected continents. These improvements made trade in merchandise and commodities more efficient, creating opportunities for exchange that did not previously exist.             Even communications technology, like

Temple Loans of Classical Greece

            The advent of a market for credit relies on a supply of and demand for surplus financial resources. The demand for credit can be driven by trade or investment or even large consumer purchases. The supply of credit can come from deposits with banks or the reserves of insurance companies. Today, the endowments of

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,

Jay Cooke and the Panic of 1873

            The market for railway company bonds grew quickly in the mid-to-late 19th century. Laying new track was very expensive and the returns would not come until a line was completed. For larger projects, such as those rail links crossing an entire continent, this could be years away. Thus, financing was as important an input

American Dollar Securities Committee

            Under a gold standard regime, exchange rates were understood to be self-regulating courtesy of the ‘price–specie flow’ mechanism. Expansions or contractions in the money supply from trade surpluses or deficits would bring about stability in exchange rates without threats to the gold standard and with minimal or no need for changes in interest rates.

The Insurance Revolution

              Insurance was one of the first financial products to achieve a level of sophistication recognizable to practitioners today. In the Late Middle Ages, insurance was widely traded in Italian port cities and life annuities were sold across Europe. However, insurance requires a calculation of risk that is rarely straightforward in a world where information

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

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