Charles E. Mitchell

            There are some people whose biographies serve as chronicles of an entire time and place. During the financial bubble in American stocks in the 1920s, one such man was Charles Mitchell. He led one of the world’s largest banks as well as its securities division, the largest such operation in the world. During the

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

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

A.P. Giannini and Bank of America

           Banks were formed in increasing number nearly everywhere in the 19th century. They also moved on from their mercantile specialization to serve industrial clients as the Industrial Revolution took off. However, even towards the end of the century, the average worker or small business had little access to banking services. Lacking good collateral for loans

The Florida Land Bubble

           A 1920s bubble where prices rise quickly, encouraging hordes of new speculators into the market, overwhelms the only prudential safeguard available at this time, good sense. When the bust comes, the speculators left with devalued assets are ruined and even take down banks along with them. This could describe the nationwide stock market boom and

Land Banks in Colonial America

           In the 17th and 18th centuries, Europe instituted mercantilist economic policies designed to promote the accumulation of money by running trade surpluses with other countries. Since several European states pursued this policy, they couldn’t all run trade surpluses with each other, so it tended to be with their colonies that European countries sought to accumulate

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