America’s Regional Exchanges

           Stock exchanges are physical testaments to financial development. Their buildings are often prominent within their home cities. They evidence commercial success, perhaps even heralding more forthcoming success. They help fund growing industries and the firms within them, the purveyors of future riches.            Just the same though, new industries have also helped form new stock exchanges,

Insurance for All

           The government in Germany is said to have created the first welfare state in the 19th century, built around social insurance schemes protecting against sickness, workplace accidents, and other hazards. In Britain, the government began building its own welfare state a few decades later, organizing it around principals of insurance as well. However, the British

Merchant Sailors

           Long sea voyages were among the largest privately undertaken ventures in the early modern world. Financing them led to the creation of some of the first joint stock companies and the task of insuring them made marine insurance one of the first modern insurance products available. Yet the sailors involved are easily overlooked, but they

The Erie Canal and Municipal Bonds

           The long-term benefits of a great project often have little to do with its exact timing, especially for undertakings years away from completion anyway. These extensive works must be planned and launched without a firm understanding of how the world will look once they are completed. The Erie Canal, which connects the Great Lakes, and

The World Bank’s Pandemic Bonds

           Insurance works courtesy of the law of large numbers. Every year, some number of homes burn down and some proportion of cars crash and these events may be unpredictable to any one insured person. To an insurer though, the occurrence of such mishaps across their portfolios is actually quite predictable. However, insurers also have a

Hull Clubs and Mutual Marine Insurance

           Marine insurance is one of the oldest forms of insurance. In Europe, it traces its history to the Late Middle Ages and even predates life insurance, at least in continuous widespread use. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the insurance industry became increasingly sophisticated and even recognizable to modern eyes. Insurance marketplaces were formed, like

The Daily London Gold Fix

           For well over a century, London was the center of the world’s gold trade despite being near no major sources of the metal nor a particularly large consumer of it. It was, however, the capital of an empire that spanned many of the gold producing regions of the world and the city was home to

The Bank of England and Lancashire Cotton

           While increased state involvement in industrial affairs in Europe is typically identified as a defining feature of economic reality in the years after the Second World War, this involvement was a continuation of economic policies pursued by pre-war governments. Further, it wasn’t only ministers and bureaucrats that increasingly organized industry, but central banks as well.

Cornelius Vander Starr

           Governments had to come to the rescue of many firms during the 2007-09 financial crisis and one of the largest rescues was that of American International Group (AIG). Unlike most of the other firms teetering on the brink, AIG was an insurance company and not a bank. It was also a particularly international firm; not

Crédit Foncier and the Renovation of Paris

           Expensive ventures often entail borrowing money and the banking system is one of the largest and most accessible lenders around. Their role in financing grand projects give banks the ability to make or break the dreams of developers, entrepreneurs, and even governments. Because the latter can approve, form, and regulate banks, governments are in the

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