A Short History of Bretton Woods

            After the First World War, the world set about restoring the international gold standard that existed before the fighting. It took years to bring to fruition and the restoration fell apart almost as quickly. After the Second World War, the world once again went about recreating a monetary order largely along pre-war lines, albeit

The 1820s Mining Stock Bubble (Part I)

            There was a sharp increase in financial globalization in the 19th century and London was the home of much of this. Increasingly, foreign governments were turning to London to raise capital. These included some of the first emerging market sovereign bond issuers, the newly independent countries of the Americas.             However, government bonds were

British Capital and American Cattle

            Population growth and rising living standards increased demand for meats in Britain during the Industrial Revolution; however, diseases that reduced cattle herds meant more imports were needed to satisfy demand. Some of this demand was met by imports of fresh beef from America. This was extraordinary considering that up to this moment in history,

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

Herstatt Bank and Globalization

           In June 1974, Herstatt Bank, a relatively small German bank, was closed by regulators on account of large losses in the foreign exchange market and murky accounting statements. The potential knock-on effects seemed small. The bank was one that few outside the vicinity of Köln would have heard of. However, because of the manner in

France’s Panama Canal Failure

           In 1879, the French Compagnie Universelle du Canal Interoceanique de Panama embarked on the project of cutting a canal through Panama to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. This was a bold project but large canals had been built before and one crossing Egypt at Suez had already transformed the world a few years earlier.

July Crisis and the Panic of 1914

           The most significant political and diplomatic crises often have financial repercussions. In the case of the ‘July Crisis’, the series of events which tragically cascaded into the First World War, the financial effects were overshadowed by the more terrible prospect of war itself. Still, the financial events of the summer of 1914 were historically significant

The Gold Standard Between the Wars (Part II)

           This post is a continuation of The Gold Standard Between the Wars (Part I). In that post, the international gold standard was rebuilt as countries fixed their exchange rates, whether at pre-war rates or newer sharply reduced valuations. As was recounted, the speed with which countries restored their currencies’ link to gold masked the difficulty

Hen Fever

           In the history of finance, many diverse objects have become the center of speculative attention, even perishable items. Agricultural commodities have caused investment crazes that boom and bust as dramatically as any. These are not always the major ‘cash crops’ that are obviously commercially important. Included are even novel crops or livestock that, at least

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