Albert Oustric

            The 1920s saw the emergence of numerous shady characters in the history of finance, the product of a buoyant stock market amidst imbalances beneath the surface. These anti-heroes tended to have something in common, they were really good at raising lots of money. A Frenchman of the period, Albert Oustric, was able to put

Romania’s ‘Caritas’ Scheme

            Like other economies transitioning out of socialism around the same time, Romania in the early 1990s was a fairly dismal place. Offering a bit of hope to many was a local ‘mutual-aid’ financial scheme called Caritas. While appealing to people’s desperation, apathy, and frustrations, Caritas was clearly not a normal financial institution. It promised

Wealth in Fin de Siècle France

             At the start of the 19th century, the origin of much of France’s wealth was from land and much of this held by aristocrats. Even in urban and commercial Paris, aristocrats made up a considerable share of the wealthiest residents until well into the century. As the 1800s came to an end though the

Tabloids and Share Tips

            In Britain like other countries, share ownership became much more widespread over the course of the 20th century. The print media responded to this by publishing more content dedicated to investments. In the U.K., even lowbrow tabloids offered extensive financial advice and their role as advisers to their millions of readers continued into the

The Exchange Rate Mechanism Crisis

            European integration may be a feat achieved despite considerable trials and tribulations. Of a financial sort, perhaps the two most notable of these are the crisis with the ‘Exchange Rate Mechanism’ in 1992-93 and the sovereign debt crisis of roughly 2009-15. The former perhaps presaged the latter. Yet, the problems with the Exchange Rate

Sweden’s 1990s Banking Crisis

            There was an international trend towards the deregulation of many industries from the 1970s to the 1990s. In Britain and America, these changes were associated, excessively by both their friends and foes alike, with Thatcher and Reagan. In any case, the liberalization of commercial life, and finance specifically, was far from unique to these

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

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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