EUROPE IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY in .NET

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EUROPE IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
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principally in shares of the Dutch East India Company, in commodities, and in bills. Speculation was active. By the eighteenth century it had developed into a world market dealing in goods and bills and securities. (411) There were well-organized syndicates. Those sponsoring rising prices were called lovers ; those sponsoring or seeking falling prices were called counterminers. (412) Future contracts, margins, short sales, and many of the techniques of modern stock exchange trading were developed. As time went by, foreign securities were also traded on the Amsterdam Exchange. Some of these were guaranteed by the authorities of the Dutch Republic; this was a form of foreign aid. By 1747 the Amsterdam Stock Exchange dealt in twenty-five different kinds of home, state, and provincial bonds, three home shares, three English shares, four English government securities, and six German loans. By the end of the eighteenth century, the list had increased from 41 to 110 issues. (413) DUTCH INTEREST RATES IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY The record of Dutch interest rates in the eighteenth century remains imprecise. The basic data are probably available, but have not yet been published as a satisfactory continuous series of rates of interest. There is little doubt about the general level. Interest rates on best credits were often very low. There were high rates available to Dutch investors, but they were not usually provided by prime domestic loans. It is small wonder that Dutch capital sought foreign investment. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, commercial loans were negotiated on the Amsterdam Exchange at as low as 13 4 2%. (413) The range for a long period was 2 3%. (414) The rate was estimated to average 21 2 3% for the entire century up to the French Revolution. (415) During the years 1735 1738 the English Parliament was informed that Dutch traders could borrow at 2 3%. (416) After 1750 the Dutch government could still borrow at 2% and individuals at 3%. (417) There is some evidence that short-term commercial rates crept up during the century. Perhaps they were influenced by opportunities to loan abroad at higher rates or by recurrent financial difficulties. By 1775 Dutch commercial rates, earlier at 13 4 2%, were quoted at 3 4%. The period of French domination and disruption of Dutch trade brought a further and sharp increase in commercial rates: 4 8% was quoted in 1795; 4 12% in 1797; but in 1799 discounts were quoted at 3 5%. The long-term obligations of the various provinces and of the government of the Dutch Republic in 1717 required annual interest payments averaging 31 2 4% of principal. The perpetual bonds of the seven provinces that shared in the debt of the Republic then paid an average nominal rate of 3.9%, while the Republic s own perpetual bonds paid 3%
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MODERN EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA TO 1900
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nominal. In 1712, 1744, and 1747 the province of Holland floated 21 2s, and in 1735 and 1746 it floated 2s. In 1786 the East India Company floated 3s. These, however, were nominal rates and not market quotations. By 1786 the average paid on the combined debt was down from 31 2% to 3%. (418) Loans of the Republic ranged from 11 4 to 5% nominal rates; the most usual nominal rate was 21 2%. Loans of various admiralties were at 21 2 4% nominal, and loans of the East India Company were at 2 41 2% nominal. (418) In 1762 market quotations for perpetual bonds of the provinces of Holland and Utrecht indicate yields of 2.51 and 2.84%, respectively. There were 23 4s selling at 97, 21 2s selling at 96 and 991 2, and 2s selling at 73. The calamities of the 1790 s are vividly reflected in the market quotations of May, 1798. (418) The 21 2s of the province of Holland were then quoted at 36 39 to yield 6.95 6.42%; the 2s were quoted at 28 30 to yield 7.15 6.66%. East India Company 2% debentures were quoted at 20 25 to yield 10 8%, and some East India Company 3s, guaranteed by the Republic, were quoted at 30 31 to yield 10 9.7%. England during the eighteenth century succeeded in bringing the rate of interest paid on her funded debt down from 8% or higher to an almost uniform 3% by mid-century, but thereafter England was unable to keep the rate down. Dutch long-term rates, when quoted, remained usually below English rates, but by no such margin as prevailed in the seventeenth century. The Dutch rates were usually far below the standard 5% that prevailed for French rentes. The contrast was even more striking in short-term commercial rates. The English bank rate never stayed below the legal limit of 5% for long. Discounts in Holland were often in the lower part of a 2 4% range until the French Revolution. In the eighteenth century Holland finally lost most of her trading advantages, much of her empire, and eventually her freedom and her republican form of government. Nevertheless, the country seemed to retain its financial poise and stability until it became a part of the French Empire. Low interest rates were still associated with the name of Dutch finance. INTEREST RATES IN OTHER EUROPEAN COUNTRIES IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY Earlier chapters suggest that a rate of 5% became generally accepted in Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as a fair and just rate. It was a common rate on long-term census annuities secured by landed property or by state revenues. It also was common for business loans in the form of silent partnerships or deposits.
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