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 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

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

Exchange Alley

           Long before New York became a financial capital of North America, let alone the world, London already had the institutions befitting a city of finance and commerce. The Royal Exchange had been founded by merchant and advisor to the monarch, Sir Thomas Gresham in 1571. Lloyd’s of London would be founded in a coffeehouse a

The Bank of England’s Weathervane

           For better or worse, forecasting has become part of economists’ repertoires. But, given the delays involved in collecting and summarizing data into regular reports on the economy’s health, using more frequently compiled or even real-time data is an art in itself. Trying to make sense of the overall economy by looking at minute-by-minute movements in