WWI’s Emergency Money

           Back when the value of currencies was still linked to the precious metals, and their issuance therefore curtailed, many resented the scarcity of money as the cause of their economic ills. Of course, a deficiency of money makes credit similarly scarce and can slow economic growth even when any stimulus at all would be welcomed.

Paying the Hoplites

           Many industrial and technological advances owe their existence to war and the same is true for financial innovation. In late-17th century England, a financial revolution was triggered in part due to a large European war then underway. The need to fund wars sparked financial ingenuity in more ancient times too. The city-states of classical Greece

Tulip Mania

           In the 17th century, one of the first recorded speculative bubbles held Holland firmly in its grip and it involved one of the most unlikely of assets, not stocks or bonds or real estate, but tulip bulbs. Even more than the time and place, it is the asset involved that makes the tale of ‘tulip

The Baltic, Britain’s Sociable Exchange

           In the world’s oldest market economies, securities and commodities exchanges have been in operation for centuries. Of those founded in Britain and America, quite a few have their origins in coffee-houses. In an era when Puritan sensibilities made alehouses and taverns unseemly places to do business, coffee-houses provided a place for social diversion. However, this

The Troika of 1898

           From 2009 to 2015, a troika of organizations were involved in arranging the bailouts of several countries, most notably that of Greece. These entities, the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund, not only lent money to nearly bankrupt sovereign governments but also made aid contingent on policy changes in the rescued countries. The arrangement

The Convoy that Sank London’s Insurers

           Over three centuries ago, Britain had just overtaken Italy to be the center of the world’s insurance trade and it nearly came crashing down. At the time, marine insurance was the largest insurance sector; it was virtually synonymous with insurance itself. The dominance of London’s insurers almost led to ruin as many new underwriters complacently

The Mark that Saved Germany

           Hyperinflation crippled numerous economies in the 20th century and continues to do so to this day. One of the most severe, and the one that is perhaps the most recounted to this day occurred in Germany following its defeat in the First World War. That episode of hyperinflation, like all the others, was most directly

Art and War

           There has been strengthening interest in alternative investments in the recent past on the part of those willing to dabble in less liquid and professionalized asset classes. Among these alternative investments are collectables, from stamps to cars. It is art however, and paintings in particular, that get the most regular attention thanks to the price

Keynes the Investor

           To the extent he is known to those outside his discipline, the economist John Maynard Keynes is probably known as just that, an economist. That his ideas have come and gone and come around again, if not entirely unknown among practitioners of finance, is at least regarded as tangential to the day-to-day responsibilities of investors.

Old Lombard Street’s Greatest Panic

           In the spring of 1866, London’s money markets were shaken by the collapse of a single large and previously illustrious firm. The Panic of 1866 was one of the most severe in Victorian finance. However, it was also handled in a surprisingly effective manner by the Bank of England, then merely a private bank, albeit