For the past forty years, I have been a student of international financial institutions and markets. The banking system, and especially international banking, has been one of the focal points of my research. One of the major functions of any international bank is the financing of international trade. The international bank is the most instrumental institution in lending to exporters or importers or providing credits for transactions in international trade, whether that bank is a commercial bank in the United States, a merchant bank in Great Britain, or a universal bank in Germany. No matter what the bank is called, it is the key institution in granting trade credits to international traders.
International trade has been an accepted practice among the nations of the world for thousands of years. The Phoenicians carried on trade with faraway countries centuries before the age of Christ. East Africans plied their trade with India using primitive boats. Polynesians traded with neighboring islands hundreds of miles away in the Pacific Ocean. In the Germany of the Middle Ages, traders met at crossroads out the area and exchanged goods. Several of these trading locations emerged into today's cities with stock exchanges now organizing the trade of years ago. These were the so-called Börsen, where specie, foreign exchange, and securities were traded in addition to goods and services.
Discovery of precious metals and the desire for spices and other exotic agricultural products enticed the conquistadors from Spain and