Hamilton and the Panic of 1792

           In the early 1790s, the United States was still in the midst of its first presidential administration and still establishing new governing institutions. This process was interrupted briefly by a financial panic in 1792. In a country then just a few years old, expectations for a strong response might not have been high. However, the

Birth and Growth of Life Insurance in Japan

           Insurance is easily imagined as a stable and delightfully boring industry but it is hardly so, certainly for property & casualty insurers who stand exposed to extreme events, natural or man-made, threatening them constantly with the threat of losses. Surely life insurance would be a calmer business. However, that industry too is still exposed to

Caesars Palace and Speculative Credit

           Speculative credit fills a void in capital markets between safe lending to investment grade governments and companies and equity capital which has the last claim in bankruptcy. Speculative credit was also a market neglected by large investors until attitudes towards the asset class changed, especially in the 1980s. Once this happened, risky ventures found a

Defoe on Trade, Commerce, and Credit

           It is easy to presume that business writing is a relatively recent genre of literature. One would think that novels have been around far longer. Reality can be surprising though and it happens that business literature has been around for centuries and, in the English language at least, novelistic writing hardly predates it by much.

Funding Canada’s Nation-Building Railroad

           Projects of immediate national significance, even when privately owned, are infrequently left to their own management and their own devices. Acceptance of government regulation in exchange for subsidies or other concessions usually constitutes the manner in which such projects get off the ground, especially for those that attempt something never done before. Private entrepreneurship, critical

The Mounts of Piety

           Many understand that banking activity was stifled in Europe during the Late Middle Ages by religious prohibitions on usury, which then referred to lending at any interest rate at all. However, this view is somewhat anachronistic, at least when applied to the end of the Middle Ages. By the time history arrived at the era

‘Business Week’ and the Depression

           In the early 20th century, several of America’s most famous popular publications on business and finance were launched. Forbes, Barron’s, Fortune, and Business Week all got their start between 1917 and 1929 and all survive with large circulation to this day. They each covered the events of the Great Depression and any of the magazines

How the Bank of Amsterdam Changed Money

           When central banks were created in the 17th century, they didn’t everywhere change the nature of money. Indeed, the Bank of England was founded not with any particular monetary objective in mind, but rather with a fiscal one. In Holland by contrast, the Bank of Amsterdam was established with a monetary raison d’etre. Almost immediately

Philip IV, the Counterfeiter King

           Finance is usually distinguished from the ‘real economy’ to isolate those parts of an economic system that are most directly engaged in production or consumption. However, this shouldn’t suggest that a financial system cannot reveal anything new about the ‘real economy’ not already measured. The condition of a monetary system can be indicative of an

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