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

Plantation Securities in Suriname

             The Dutch Republic had the most developed financial system in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, a system which deployed huge surpluses earned in trade. However, there were limited investment opportunities in Holland so this system also helped develop Dutch colonies as investors in Holland invested their surpluses abroad. In Suriname, Dutch savings

The Sassoons

           Over the course of the 19th century, the world economy was shaped by an increasing dose of globalization. This was not a new trend. However, for the first time, the world economy was also subject to simultaneous liberalization. International trade had been very restricted up until the early 19th century, the preserve of state-backed official

Loans and Diplomacy in the 19th Century

           As leading commercial cities developed more active and sophisticated financial markets, some cities became centers for global finance. London and Paris became such cities in the 19th century, serving the financial needs not only of their own countries but even those of the continent and the world. Governments of other countries turned to these cities,

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