Paying the Hoplites

           Many industrial and technological advances owe their existence to war and the same is true for financial innovation. In late-17th century England, a financial revolution was triggered in part due to a large European war then underway. The need to fund wars sparked financial ingenuity in more ancient times too. The city-states of classical Greece

Khedives, Canals, Cotton, and Credit

           In the 19th century, control over Egypt fell into the hands of rulers bearing grand ambitions for their country. However, ambitions are expensive and debts mounted as money was poured into new infrastructure projects, most notably the Suez Canal. Egypt was first introduced to the international debt markets while its economy boomed amidst rising prices

Tulip Mania

           In the 17th century, one of the first recorded speculative bubbles held Holland firmly in its grip and it involved one of the most unlikely of assets, not stocks or bonds or real estate, but tulip bulbs. Even more than the time and place, it is the asset involved that makes the tale of ‘tulip

The Great Sovereign Bond Bust

           One of the most pronounced bubbles in 19th century finance was a boom in emerging market debt that hazardously swelled during the 1820s. During that decade, sovereign bonds were issued by several newly independent countries following Latin America’s successful revolt against Spanish colonial rule. These newborn borrowers found a strong market for their first bonds

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