Tuscan Banking in the Middle Ages

             Medieval Italy was home to a burgeoning banking system, even a century before the start of the Medici banking operation. This system was concentrated in the Tuscan cities of Siena, Lucca, and Florence but its reach was international. Tuscan bankers financed merchants conducting international trade before extending their services to kings and popes. These relationships

Financing the Second French Indemnity

           After France’s defeat in the 1871 Franco-Prussian War, the country was billed five billion francs for peace. This ‘indemnity’ was intended to cripple the country, but it failed. The French government was able to pay the demanded reparations faster than expected by refinancing the indemnity with perpetual bonds, or rentes. It succeeded in conducting the

Financing the First French Indemnity

           After being defeated at Waterloo, Napoleon Bonaparte was forced to give up control of France. The treaty that finally ended the long Napoleonic Wars nonetheless imposed on the defeated country responsibility for paying a large indemnity, the first of two in 19th century France. The public finances were in shambles; so, meeting such payments would

Rai Stones

           It was in fairly modern times that money transformed from being purely a physical thing, tangible coins or paper changing hands, to an ethereal substance. Today, when money is used, it largely moves only in a digital sense and before the digital era, it may have changed hands without physically moving but instead by the

Biddle, Jackson, and the Bank War

           In spite of, if not because of, their importance, banks are not usually popular. They are frequently the target of zealous reformers. Yet, bold policies rushed into enthusiastically should be the most worrisome. Campaigning against any institution in the name of progress should bring into question what exactly will replace it. Left unaddressed or poorly

Barter and Money in Post-War Germany

           When a currency is discredited, people usually turn to substitutes. These are often foreign currencies. Sometimes though the economy functions only by resorting to barter. This is hardly a solution since bartering is usually impractical. During the late 1940s in occupied Germany, people traded goods for products like cigarettes, coal, and potatoes which were in

Soviet Education in Finance and Economics

           In the Soviet Union, university programs in finance and economics did exist but they were nothing like their Western counterparts. To be sure, Western economies and financial systems were studied but providing a thorough understanding of a capitalist system was not the natural objective of these programs.            Rather, the courses distributed to students evidence of

Philately and Investment

            Stamp collecting came about soon after the postage stamp itself. While the first postage stamp was introduced in 1840, within twenty-five years one could find for sale in London or Paris some of the earliest stamp albums, catalogues, and magazines. In recent decades, stamp collecting has garnered attention from more than just philatelic enthusiasts;

Seashell Money in America

              Today, coins and banknotes are the most common physical manifestations of money, but money does not need to take these common forms. Anything could be money, or at least exhibit some of the qualities of money, even seemingly common items anyone could produce. Consider that cowrie shells were used as money in Africa and Asia

Financial Crisis of AD 33

           In ancient Rome, lending was often secured by land, at least in the case of large loans to wealthy landowners. Naturally therefore, the credit and real estate markets were closely linked. These links could help propel large fortunes when times were good and could cause trouble when virtuous cycles gave way to spiraling losses, when

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