Impunity and Capitalism: The Afterlives of European Financial Crises, 1690–1830
Whose fault are financial crises, and who is responsible for stopping them, or repairing the damage? Impunity and Capitalism develops a new approach to the history of capitalism and inequality by using the concept of impunity to show how financial crises stopped being crimes and became natural disasters. Trevor Jackson examines the legal regulation of capital markets in a period of unprecedented expansion in the complexity of finance ranging from the bankruptcy of Europe’s richest man in 1709, to the world’s first stock market crash in 1720, to the first Latin American debt crisis in 1825. He shows how, after each crisis, popular anger and improvised policy responses resulted in efforts to create a more just financial capitalism but succeeded only in changing who could act with impunity, and how. Henceforth financial crises came to seem normal and legitimate, caused by impersonal international markets, with the costs borne by domestic populations and nobody in particular at fault.
- Explains where modern financial markets came from, how they used to work, how and why they have changed over time, shows what is new and what is old in today’s finance capitalism
- Provides a new framework for understanding financial crises in particular, and the history of inequality and injustice in general
- For a broad range of scholars of economic history, financial history, business history and early modern British and European history
Introduction; Part I: Preface: Impunity at the Origins of Financial Capitalism: 1. Professionalizing impunity: from the failures of 1709 to the crisis of 1720; 2. The crisis of 1720 and the invention of discredit; 3. Between independence and impunity: the legitimacy of central banking after the crisis of 1720; Part II: Preface: Revolutionary Impunity: 4. The end of the old financial regime, 1781–1793; 5. Recasting financial capitalism, 1796–1821; Part III: Preface: The Gold Standard and a Stable Impunity, 1815–1830: 6. The panic of 1825 and the systematization of impunity; Conclusion: monetary policy as conscience management.