English Usury Law and its Abolition

           Whether usury laws stunted the growth of finance, especially in early modern Europe, is a question that causes much disagreement. The degree of enforcement of these laws may have had some impact on the level of financial development in different parts of Europe but it would be difficult to argue that usury laws stifled all

From Stockholms Banco to Riksbank

           The Sveriges Riksbank, the central bank of Sweden, is one of the oldest banks in the world but it was not an entirely novel creation. Rather, it took up the responsibilities of another bank that had recently failed, the Stockholms Banco. That firm was the victim of adjustments to the coinage that interrupted the monetary

The People’s Budget

           Advocates of free trade have often promised it would bring more productive industry, the curtailment of monopolies, and more choice for consumers. However, free trade required a rethink of fiscal systems since, at least prior to the 20th century, most national governments relied on customs duties for a substantial part of their revenues. Those who

The Ottoman Debt Crisis

           When sovereign debt markets globally became more integrated in the 19th century, weaker debtors found a new way to finance deficits, borrowing from abroad. No longer would expedients to budget shortfalls, prudent or not, need to be found domestically. The advances of the 19th century enabled new borrowers to issue bonds to yield-hungry investors in

America’s Land Bubble

           In the history of financial bubbles, the assets at the center of attention have varied from equity and debt securities to commodities like tulips, indigo, and gold to real estate and land. The last of these was the object of great speculation in the early history of the United States. Indeed, it was a land

Alfred Winslow Jones and the First Hedge Fund

           In the decades after the ‘roaring twenties’ and the crash of 1929, American financiers gained a reputation for conservatism now rarely attributed to Wall Street. Investors, though still in search of good returns, seemed to appreciate the sound and tested and grew suspicious of the new and untried. New regulations introduced in the 1930s and

Pinochet, Pensions, and Chilean Markets

           Among the most dramatic and controversial economic transformations pursued in any country was that launched in Chile after the 1973 coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power. The civilian administrators he entrusted with the nation’s economy went about turning it into a neoliberal experiment. Their reforms included a restructuring of the country’s dated pension

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

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