Merchant Sailors

           Long sea voyages were among the largest privately undertaken ventures in the early modern world. Financing them led to the creation of some of the first joint stock companies and the task of insuring them made marine insurance one of the first modern insurance products available. Yet the sailors involved are easily overlooked, but they

The World Bank’s Pandemic Bonds

           Insurance works courtesy of the law of large numbers. Every year, some number of homes burn down and some proportion of cars crash and these events may be unpredictable to any one insured person. To an insurer though, the occurrence of such mishaps across their portfolios is actually quite predictable. However, insurers also have a

Hull Clubs and Mutual Marine Insurance

           Marine insurance is one of the oldest forms of insurance. In Europe, it traces its history to the Late Middle Ages and even predates life insurance, at least in continuous widespread use. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the insurance industry became increasingly sophisticated and even recognizable to modern eyes. Insurance marketplaces were formed, like

The Bank of England and Lancashire Cotton

           While increased state involvement in industrial affairs in Europe is typically identified as a defining feature of economic reality in the years after the Second World War, this involvement was a continuation of economic policies pursued by pre-war governments. Further, it wasn’t only ministers and bureaucrats that increasingly organized industry, but central banks as well.

Cornelius Vander Starr

           Governments had to come to the rescue of many firms during the 2007-09 financial crisis and one of the largest rescues was that of American International Group (AIG). Unlike most of the other firms teetering on the brink, AIG was an insurance company and not a bank. It was also a particularly international firm; not

The Foreign and Colonial Government Trust

           While the 17th and 18th centuries saw the development of new financial institutions, with banks, insurance companies, and exchanges sprouting up, especially in Britain, these inventions generally served the financial needs of relatively few. It was the 19th century when they began to serve even ordinary people, or at least the growing middle classes, in

Republic of Texas Bonds

           Governments are usually able to borrow on terms at least as favorable as any available to individuals or companies. So long as they are not too indebted, their ability to tax subjects is something creditors are quite often happy to lend against. In the 19th century, numerous countries began to issue longer-term debts in bond

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