The Foreign and Colonial Government Trust

           While the 17th and 18th centuries saw the development of new financial institutions, with banks, insurance companies, and exchanges sprouting up, especially in Britain, these inventions generally served the financial needs of relatively few. It was the 19th century when they began to serve even ordinary people, or at least the growing middle classes, in

Republic of Texas Bonds

           Governments are usually able to borrow on terms at least as favorable as any available to individuals or companies. So long as they are not too indebted, their ability to tax subjects is something creditors are quite often happy to lend against. In the 19th century, numerous countries began to issue longer-term debts in bond

Webster, Wallace, and Scottish Widows

           The 18th century was a formative one in the history of insurance. In Britain in particular, insurance was increasingly being sold by specialized firms, rather than by underwriters operating independently or in syndicates. In this way and others, over the course of the century, the industry developed to become more recognizable to modern eyes. In

Swiss Banks and Secrecy

           For a small country, Switzerland punches above its weight in banking. This has largely been attributed to bank secrecy rules that make Swiss banks particularly useful to some. Over the past century, the country’s banking sector has been associated with secrecy, accused of facilitating tax evasion and other crimes. While a professional standard in banking

The Charitable Corporation Scandal

           Britain’s ‘Financial Revolution’ is usually best known for its fiscal and market effects. However, it also coincided with changing opinions towards consumer credit. By the early 18th century, borrowing and lending was accepted as a fact of life that was best tolerated rather than regulated out of existence. One attempt at improving the terms upon

Crédit Lyonnais and Executive Life

           In 1995, the French government chose to rescue a bank at a cost of $35 billion which had secretly and illegally acquired another firm earlier that decade without regulators noticing. The bank falsified financial statements and had been drifting towards riskier activities for years. Making this story even more surprising was that all this illegal

Argentina, Barings, and the Panic of 1890

           In search of higher returns elsewhere, European investors in the 19th century increasingly coveted the bonds of South American borrowers. In Argentina, foreign money helped finance national improvements and government deficits. Arranging much of this financing was one of the oldest London merchant banks, Barings Brothers & Co. When the boom years ended and the

Pawnbrokers and the 18th Century Poor

           While credit may hardly be considered unavailable to the poor in wealthy countries today, it’s easy to think it only became so accessible in recent times. In truth, though there will generally be more eager lenders to the rich than to the poor, and while the forms of credit available to the latter have changed,

Ford’s 1919 Management Buyout

           Leveraged buyouts, the acquisition of companies where the purchase price is paid primarily by borrowing, became increasingly common in the 1980s. Very often, existing management teams are invited to participate in a leveraged buyout by the acquirer. Occasionally, it is the management team themselves who initiate the transaction and in this variation the arrangement is