This book is the culmination of reading, writing, and researching financial history for over thirty years. This process started at Aberdeen University in 1971 when I began a Ph.D. on the Scottish stock exchanges in the nineteenth century. It then continued at Durham University from 1974 when I began to teach a course on International Economic History. This first taught me the practical importance of securities markets within financial systems whilst the second made me aware of the forces of globalization. Instead of looking at the Scottish stock exchanges in isolation, taking a particularly institutional and national approach, I started to employ the analytical tools of comparative economic history and to search for interactions between markets and financial systems, between institutions and markets, and between different markets. In turn that made clear the importance of the City of London as a financial centre both within Britain and internationally. The outcome was a twin-track approach to the study of financial history. The first was to pursue the comparative aspect leading to an in-depth study of the London and New York stock exchanges using the archives of both institutions. That was a major turning point in my research and led to the book I am most proud of. The second was to investigate the history of the City of London as a way into an understanding of the international financial system. That led to a book on the City of London as a financial centre. Two of these aspects came together with my next big project, which was a history of the London Stock Exchange. At the same time I became increasingly aware of the European dimension to financial history through the conferences hosted by the European Association of Banking History, and the edited volumes that arose from these meetings. These brought to my attention the major differences between the AngloAmerican financial system and that of continental Europe, where banking took a different form in many countries. In addition, location within a Department of History from 1985 forced me to recognize the significance of government as an influence over financial markets, and how legislation and other forms of intervention could mould the way securities markets evolved and performed in different countries and at different times. The consequence of all this is this present book.
As I was writing up the research into both stock exchanges and the City of London I yearned for a book that would give me a deeper understanding of the global context and provide the longer term background. None was available though some of the studies on securities markets and stock