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

Merrill Lynch & Company

           Over the course of the 20th century, courtesy of improvements in communication, and some deregulation along the way, owning shares in listed companies was transformed from a privilege of the wealthy and connected few to something almost as common as a bank account or insurance policy. Yet, in the decade after the stock market crash

Mobilizing Credit during WWII

           The Second World War not only pulled American economic output closer to its potential capacity, but also transformed its composition. War-related industries were prioritized and the production and consumption of other goods was controlled by rationing. This is fairly well known. What is less well known are the ways credit was mobilized during the war,

William Durant

           In the early days of any industry, growth requires lots of external capital. Reinvested profits, if there are any profits at all, are usually woefully insufficient to meet the growth expected by visionary founders or eager customers alike. This means the founders and executives of firms in new industries have to be capable financiers, or

Dow Jones & Co.

           Honest financial journalism is indispensable to ethical financial markets. It is hard to imagine a clean financial industry in operation if the state of its trade press was unchanged from that of the middle of the 19th century, when financial journalism could be summarized as the propagation of rumors, often with nefarious ends. The professionalization

Tobacco Money

           In the absence of metal coins or modern banknotes, commodities have been used as money. The commodities most suitable are those held in high demand by traders and merchants. In colonial America, examples of these included beads, beaver belts, and tobacco. The latter is particularly interesting not only because of its particularly broad acceptance as

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