The Nabobs’ Homecoming

           In early modern Europe, the most powerful incentive for overseas exploration were the riches to be gained by trade. These riches led countries to sponsor trading companies and sent the entrepreneurial abroad. In the case of British merchants, clerks, and soldiers in India, there were opportunities to earn fortunes nearly unachievable at home. British trade

Quant Quake

           Though it may seem unusual, not all market crashes are obvious at first sight. True, when investors bet a particular investment will appreciate and come to find out they are wrong, the result is usually plainly visible in the price of that investment. However, not all investment strategies are bets that a particular security, or

Italian Unification and the Corso Forzoso

           Fiscally troubled governments have often found monetary expedients to their financial difficulties. The result is often trouble. Deficits once financed by issuing bonds willingly bought are thereafter financed by printing money reluctantly accepted. The result is a despotic tax, levied arbitrarily on those unable to secure a ‘real’ income both sufficient and recurring for their

Hamilton and the Panic of 1792

           In the early 1790s, the United States was still in the midst of its first presidential administration and still establishing new governing institutions. This process was interrupted briefly by a financial panic in 1792. In a country then just a few years old, expectations for a strong response might not have been high. However, the

Birth and Growth of Life Insurance in Japan

           Insurance is easily imagined as a stable and delightfully boring industry but it is hardly so, certainly for property & casualty insurers who stand exposed to extreme events, natural or man-made, threatening them constantly with the threat of losses. Surely life insurance would be a calmer business. However, that industry too is still exposed to

Caesars Palace and Speculative Credit

           Speculative credit fills a void in capital markets between safe lending to investment grade governments and companies and equity capital which has the last claim in bankruptcy. Speculative credit was also a market neglected by large investors until attitudes towards the asset class changed, especially in the 1980s. Once this happened, risky ventures found a

Defoe on Trade, Commerce, and Credit

           It is easy to presume that business writing is a relatively recent genre of literature. One would think that novels have been around far longer. Reality can be surprising though and it happens that business literature has been around for centuries and, in the English language at least, novelistic writing hardly predates it by much.

Funding Canada’s Nation-Building Railroad

           Projects of immediate national significance, even when privately owned, are infrequently left to their own management and their own devices. Acceptance of government regulation in exchange for subsidies or other concessions usually constitutes the manner in which such projects get off the ground, especially for those that attempt something never done before. Private entrepreneurship, critical

The Mounts of Piety

           Many understand that banking activity was stifled in Europe during the Late Middle Ages by religious prohibitions on usury, which then referred to lending at any interest rate at all. However, this view is somewhat anachronistic, at least when applied to the end of the Middle Ages. By the time history arrived at the era

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