The Evolutionary Chain of International Financial Centers
Financial products are unstandardized and subject to a great deal of uncertainty. They tend to concentrate geographically because of the reduction in information costs resulting from close contacts. Concentration leads to economies of scale and encourages external economies. Great financial centers enjoy a high degree of persistence but are not immune from decline and eventual demise. Yet, their achievements are passed along in a an evolutionary manner. In revisiting the historical record of seven international financial centers – Florence, Venice, Genoa, Antwerp, Amsterdam, London and New York — the paper finds evidence of a long evolutionary chain of banking and finance. As to the present and the future, the forces of integration are likely to give an additional boost to the persistence of international financial centers.
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