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Financial capitalism emerged in a recognisably modern form in late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Great Britain. Following the seminal work of Douglass C. North and Barry R. Weingast (1989), many scholars have concluded that the 'credible commitment' that was provided by parliamentary backing of government as a result of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 provided the key institutional underpinning on which modern public finances depend. In this book, a specially commissioned group of historians and economists examine and challenge the North and Weingast thesis to show that multiple commitment mechanisms were necessary to convince public creditors that sovereign debt constituted a relatively accessible, safe and liquid investment vehicle. Questioning Credible Commitment provides academics and practitioners with a broader understanding of the origins of financial capitalism, and, with its focus on theoretical and policy frameworks, shows the significance of the debate to current macroeconomic policy making.
About the Author
D'Maris Coffman is the Mary Bateson Research Fellow at Newnham College, Director of the Centre for Financial History and Affiliated Lecturer in the History Faculty, University of Cambridge.
Adrian Leonard is a Bateman Scholar at Trinity Hall and an Affiliated Researcher at the Centre for Financial History, Newnham College, University of Cambridge.
Larry Neal is Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research and Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction D'Maris Coffman and Larry Neal; 2. Could the crown credibly commit to respecting its charters? England, 1558-1640 Ron Harris; 3. Contingent commitment: the development of English marine insurance in the context of New Institutional Economics, 1577-1720 Adrian Leonard; 4. Credibility, transparency, accountability and the public credit under the Long Parliament and Commonwealth, 1643-53 D'Maris Coffman; 5. Jurisdictional controversy and the credibility of common law Julia Rudolph; 6. The importance of not defaulting: the significance of the election of 1710 James Macdonald; 7. Financing and refinancing the War of the Spanish Succession, then refinancing the South Sea Company Ann M. Carlos, Erin K. Fletcher, Larry Neal and Kirsten Wandschneider; 8. Sovereign debts, political structure, and institutional commitments in Italy, 1350-1700 Luciano Pezzolo; 9. Bounded leviathan: fiscal constraints and financial development in the Early Modern Hispanic world Alejandra Irigoin and Regina Grafe; 10. Court capitalism, illicit markets, and political legitimacy in eighteenth century France: the example of the salt and tobacco monopolies Michael Kwass; 11. Institutions, deficits, and wars: the determinants of British government borrowing costs from the end of the seventeenth century to 1850 Nathan Sussman and Yishay Yafeh; Index.