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Bonds and Brands : intermediaries and reputation in sovereign debt markets 1820-1830


  • Flandreau, Marc
  • Flores, Juan-Huitzi


How does sovereign debt emerge and become sustainable? This paper provides a new answer to this unsolved puzzle. Focusing on the early 19th century, we argue that intermediaries’ market power served to overcome information asymmetries and sustained the development of sovereign debt. Relying on insights from corporate finance, we argue that capitalists turned to intermediaries’ reputations to guide their investment strategies. The outcome was a two-tier global bond market, which was sustained by hierarchical relations among intermediaries. This novel theoretical perspective is backed by new archival evidence and empirical data that have never been gathered so far.

Suggested Citation

  • Flandreau, Marc & Flores, Juan-Huitzi, 2007. "Bonds and Brands : intermediaries and reputation in sovereign debt markets 1820-1830," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH wp07-12, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
  • Handle: RePEc:cte:whrepe:wp07-12

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Romer, Paul, 1994. "New goods, old theory, and the welfare costs of trade restrictions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 5-38, February.
    2. Harley, C. Knick, 1992. "International Competitiveness of the Antebellum American Cotton Textile Industry," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(03), pages 559-584, September.
    3. Clark, Gregory, 1987. "Why Isn't the Whole World Developed? Lessons from the Cotton Mills," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(01), pages 141-173, March.
    4. Krugman, Paul, 1995. "Increasing returns, imperfect competition and the positive theory of international trade," Handbook of International Economics,in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 24, pages 1243-1277 Elsevier.
    5. H. M. Boot, 1995. "How skilled were Lancashire cotton factory workers in 1833?," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 48(2), pages 283-303, May.
    6. Sokoloff, Kenneth L., 1984. "Was the transition from the artisanal shop to the nonmechanized factory associated with gains in efficiency?: Evidence from the U.S. Manufacturing censuses of 1820 and 1850," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 351-382, October.
    7. M. Blaug, 1961. "The Productivity Of Capital In The Lancashire Cotton Industry During The Nineteenth Century," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 13(3), pages 358-381, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marc Flandreau, 2013. "Sovereign states, bondholders committees, and the London Stock Exchange in the nineteenth century (1827–68): new facts and old fictions," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(4), pages 668-696, WINTER.
    2. Flandreau, Marc & Flores Zendejas, Juan Huitzilihuitl, 2010. "Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark: Relationship banking and conditionality lending in the London market for government debt, 1815-1913," CEPR Discussion Papers 7915, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Marc Flandreau, Juan Flores, 2010. "Hamlet Without The Prince of Denmark: Relationship Banking and Conditionality Lending In The London Market For Foreign Government Debt, 1815 - 1913," IHEID Working Papers 08-2010, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies.
    4. Marc Flandreau & Juan Flores, 2011. "Bondholders vs. bond-sellers? Investment banks and conditionality lending in the London market for foreign government debt, 1815-1913," Working Papers 0002, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    5. Carlos Marichal, 2014. "Historical reflections on the causes of financial crises: Official investigations, past and present, 1873–2011," Investigaciones de Historia Económica (IHE) Journal of the Spanish Economic History Association, Asociacion Espa–ola de Historia Economica, vol. 10(02), pages 81-91.

    More about this item


    Financial history;

    JEL classification:

    • F37 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Finance Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets
    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage
    • N20 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N23 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity

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