Victorian Banking, Through the Ledger

           The value banks add to industry is well known, the value of banking to commerce is no less uncertain. By contrast, it can be easier to lose sight of the value banks provide to ordinary people, especially in a historical setting. Indeed, for the first couple centuries of modern banking, common folk hardly interacted with

Disappearing Brokerage Commissions

           Few dates are as important in the history of the American stock market, at least for ordinary retail investors, as May 1, 1975. “May Day” brought about the abolition of fixed commissions, the high charges for trading in ordinary stocks and mutual funds defended by the keeper of the kingdom, the New York Stock Exchange.

The Disaster that Made Reinsurance

           Favorable laws and institutions along with innovative practices helped put Britain at the forefront of the world insurance business for centuries. However, when it came to reinsurance, the British were sitting on the sidelines while the industry was thriving in Germany. As with many other historic changes in insurance, the birth of reinsurance resulted from

John Law, the Outlaw Banker

           At the start of the 18th century, a stock market boom was underway in several European countries simultaneously. Today, this episode is best remembered for the spectacular boom and bust of the South Sea Company in Britain. However, it was just one of the companies involved in a larger mania. In France, a bubble in

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