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

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,

London, Antwerp, and Sir Thomas Gresham

           London developed into a financial center in the 17th and 18th centuries. Sir Thomas Gresham, a 16th century merchant and royal financial agent, had some part in making this so. His leading role in establishing the Royal Exchange is well known and lends evidence to this view but that was just a part of his

Raiffeisen and the Rural Credit Union

           While they had existed for centuries before, it was during the 19th century that access to banks was extended to virtually all classes. In Europe and America, new types of banks were formed, including credit unions, that sought to provide dependable financial services to ordinary people. The first of these credit unions were formed in

English Usury Law and its Abolition

           Whether usury laws stunted the growth of finance, especially in early modern Europe, is a question that causes much disagreement. The degree of enforcement of these laws may have had some impact on the level of financial development in different parts of Europe but it would be difficult to argue that usury laws stifled all

From Stockholms Banco to Riksbank

           The Sveriges Riksbank, the central bank of Sweden, is one of the oldest banks in the world but it was not an entirely novel creation. Rather, it took up the responsibilities of another bank that had recently failed, the Stockholms Banco. That firm was the victim of adjustments to the coinage that interrupted the monetary

The People’s Budget

           Advocates of free trade have often promised it would bring more productive industry, the curtailment of monopolies, and more choice for consumers. However, free trade required a rethink of fiscal systems since, at least prior to the 20th century, most national governments relied on customs duties for a substantial part of their revenues. Those who

The Ottoman Debt Crisis

           When sovereign debt markets globally became more integrated in the 19th century, weaker debtors found a new way to finance deficits, borrowing from abroad. No longer would expedients to budget shortfalls, prudent or not, need to be found domestically. The advances of the 19th century enabled new borrowers to issue bonds to yield-hungry investors in

Italian Unification and the Corso Forzoso

           Fiscally troubled governments have often found monetary expedients to their financial difficulties. The result is often trouble. Deficits once financed by issuing bonds willingly bought are thereafter financed by printing money reluctantly accepted. The result is a despotic tax, levied arbitrarily on those unable to secure a ‘real’ income both sufficient and recurring for their

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