Murphy A. (2006) The Financial Revolution: a supply-side story (for real)

October 9, 2009

Murphy, Anne L. (2006) “Dealing with Uncertainty: Managing Personal Investment in the Early English National Debt”, History, 91/302, 200-17.

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The sums involved in the so-called English Financial Revolution following the arrival on the throne of William III were altogether not that important: £6.9m from 1688 to 1702 while the government budget over the period reached £72m. However, “the impact of those novel methods of fund-raising was considerable”. In particular because small wealth-owners represented a large share of these early investors (p.201). Samuel Jeake, a merchant from Rye (East Sussex) was one of those small investors. He recorded his thought and his transactions in a diary and a few letters (p.202). Read the rest of this entry »

Sylla R. (2008) How Alexander Hamilton founded America (singlehanded)

September 22, 2009

Sylla, Richard (2008) “The Political Economy of Early U.S. Financial Development”, in Political Institutions and Financial Development, ed. Stephen Haber, Douglass C. North and Barry R. Weingast. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 60-91.

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In only seven years, from 1788 to 1795, the US underwent a dramatic financial revolution; starting from scratch and swiftly acquiring all the key components of a modern financial infrastructure. By the time the westward expansion and the industrial take-off were ready to swing into action, a strong financial system was there to back them (p.62). But what allowed the US to develop these instruments? Read the rest of this entry »

Gelderblom O. & Jonker J. (2008) What really brought interests down

September 21, 2009

Gelderblom, Oscar & Joost Jonker (2009) “The Conditional Miracle. Institutional change, fiscal policy, bond markets and interest rates in Holland 1514-1713”, Utrecht University Working Papers.

Jan de Baen, Portret van Johan de WittOscar en JoostKaartLeiden

This paper is available online (pdf).

Traditional explanation of the low issuing rate on public debt in the Dutch Republic emphasize the dramatic fall that occurred around 1600, but fail to explain why this level kept on falling from 1640 to 1725, until it had reached 2.5% (p.2). Read the rest of this entry »

Stabel P. and Haemers J. (2006) Financial revolution: the supply side story (… almost)

September 12, 2009

Stabel, Peter and Jelle Haemers (2006) “From Bruges to Antwerp. International commercial firms and government’s credit in the late 15th and early 16th century”, in Banca, Crédito y Captial. La Monarquía Hispánica y los antiguos Países Bajos (1505-1700), eds. Carmen Sanz Ayán and Bernardo J. García García, Madrid: Fundación Carlos de Amberes, p.20-38.

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The Financial Revolution – i. e. the gradual increase of government spending made possible by an increasing reliance on loans obtained from the capital markets – has essentially been studied from the side of the public demand. The ability of the markets to match this demand being regarded almost as a given. Meanwhile the impact the governments’ enormous financial needs may have had on private finance have hardly been addressed (p.22). Read the rest of this entry »

Interest rates in premodern Amsterdam

August 13, 2009

Ok it has nothing to do with the theme of the week (the Glorious Revolution), but I’m sure you hadn’t remarked there was a theme of the week anyhow.

So here is a very compeling story that explains better than anything else the process of financial revolution; here is a table showing the interest rates in 16th and 17th century for private loans used by small and medium businessmen:

Picture 3Source: Dehing, Pit and Marjolein ‘T hart (1997) “Linking the fortunes: currency and banking, 1550-1800” in Marjolein ‘T Hart, Joost Jonker and Jan Luiten van Zanden, eds., A financial history of the Netherlands, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.44-45.

Quinn S. (2001) Public debt to private finance: “Drop dead”

August 12, 2009

Quinn, Stephen (2001) “The Glorious Revolution’s Effect on English Private Finance: A Microhistory 1680-1705”, The Journal of Economic History, 61/3: 593-615.

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Disclaimer: this summary is written by the contributors of the blog and not by the author of the article. Any mistake is Manuel’s fault (and he shall be punished).


According to North and Weingast’s famous thesis, the investiture of William III of England in 1688, the “Glorious Revolution”, triggered a quick modernization of the British financial system – prompting in turn a fall of the interest rates. But the arrival of the new king also led the realm into a new war against France which lasted nine years and increased public debt from £1 million to £19 million (⅓ of the national income; p.593). Read the rest of this entry »

Temin P. and Voth H.-J. (2008) A case for deregulation… in 18th-century Britain

April 28, 2009

Temin, Peter and Voth, Hans-Joachim (2008) “Private borrowing during the financial revolution: Hoare’s Bank and its customers, 1702-24”, Economic History Review, 61/3, 541-564.



The Financial Revolution is said to have allowed the British government to borrow widely and cheaply. Famously, North and Weingast added that it also had a profound and beneficial effect on private businesses (p.541). To assess the latter claim, the authors use data collected from the archives of a small London goldsmith bank, Hoare’s (p.542). It is likely that their sample is fairly representative since there were only a dozen such establishments around 1700s. The key event of the period is the lowering of the legal maximum interest rate from 6 to 5% in 1714 by the heavily indebted British government at the end of the War of Spanish Succession (p.543). Read the rest of this entry »