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State Cash Resources and State Building in Europe 13th-18th century

Katia Béguin
Anne L. Murphy

Markets for Public Debt Securities

Revisiting Notes on the History of the Interest Rate: Bond Markets in the Republic of Genoa

David Chilosi

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Extrait du texte


In 1952, the late Carlo Maria Cipolla published an article destined to be among the most widely read of a highly distinguished scholarship. Its main title translates as ‘Notes on the history of the interest rate’. There, Cipolla traced the development of interest rates paid on the shares of the Casa di San Giorgio, the consortium of creditors responsible for the management of the Genoese public debt in the sixteenth century. The figures have subsequently become the standard source for analysing the cost of public borrowing in the Genoese republic, which at the time was one of the most important financial centres in Europe.

There are two good reasons that make it worth revisiting them. Firstly, in spite of their popularity, reservations have been expressed about the reliability of the figures, both by Cipolla himself and by subsequent commentators. Secondly, if valid, the figures would offer a unique insight into the relationship between official and market rates across th...


Research Officer at the Economic History Department of the London School of Economics and Political Science, David Chilosi currently works on the pre-industrial economy of the wheat and the capital markets. He has recently published: ‘Risky institutions: political regimes and the cost of public borrowing in early modern Italy’, Journal of Economic History, 74 (3), 2014, pp. 887–915; (with T. Murphy, R. Studer and C. Tuncer) ‘Europe’s many integrations: geography and grain markets, 1620–1913’, Explorations in Economic History, January 2013, pp. 46–68; (with O. Volckart) ‘Money, states and empire: financial integration and institutional change in central Europe, 1400–1520’, Journal of Economic History, Sept. 2011, pp. 762–791; ‘Old wine in new bottles: civic nation-building and ethnic nationalism in schooling in Piedmont, ca. 1700–1861’, Nations and Nationalism, July 2007, pp. 417–436.

© Institut de la gestion publique et du développement économique, 2017

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