Orphaned Soviet Bonds

            The ability of financial markets in a free-market system to raise capital is virtually unrivaled. So much so that even communist governments have turned to them for loans. The Soviet Union was no stranger to the sovereign debt markets and the Soviet state raised money by selling bonds in Western financial capitals during the last

The Medici Bank and Letters of Credit

           The 17th and 18th centuries saw financial innovations whose creations have direct heirs today, from the modern deposit bank to the joint-stock company. However, it would be incorrect to imply that these institutions were the first of their kind. When it comes to banking for example, older Renaissance-era institutions made substantial breakthroughs and while that

The Stock Ticker

           The flow of information is an important part of any financial system. Whether it be in the agglomeration of important institutions in a single financial center or the communications technology used, the need for information has left its mark on financial services. For centuries, business could only be done as quickly as a courier’s legs

The 370-Year-Old Infrastructure Bond

           There aren’t very many financial instruments, especially bonds, that distributed income to investors for over a century. The relatively few that exist are usually perpetual bonds, those without any maturity date at all. Today, they are a relatively small category of bonds available to investors. However, there was a time when perpetual bonds were the

Wells Fargo and the Gold Rush

           Much as it was for the country as a whole, the middle of the 19th century was a formative era for American finance. The Era of Free Banking was a period of very little regulation of banks and saw the founding of many of them. But two of today’s most massive American financial firms, Wells

The First Sovereign Bonds

           The borrowing needs of governments usually exceed what any one creditor is able to lend. For centuries, governments have worked around this by selling bonds with standardized terms to investors, millions of them. However common this practice is today, it was absent in most ancient and medieval civilizations. It was not until the Late Middle

London’s Goldsmith-Bankers

           Banks are rather curious institutions. While we may not recognize it today, the idea that your money is safer in the hands of a stranger is a tough sell. If a random person came up to you on the street and offered a quarter percent more interest for your savings, claiming his vault was more

Postal Savings Systems

           Like almost everything else, access to banking services is often unappreciated by those who have it. Yet, it is so important to economic development and improving the standard of living of ordinary people that it is often a key policy focus of developing countries, and not just their governments. From microfinance to fintech, new approaches

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