Credit and Power : The Paradox at the Heart of the British National Debt book cover
1st Edition

Credit and Power
The Paradox at the Heart of the British National Debt

ISBN 9780367333614
Published October 28, 2020 by Routledge
256 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book reveals the surprising role that credit, money created ex nihilo by financiers, played in raising the British government’s war loans between 1793 and 1815. Using often overlooked contemporary objections to the National Debt a startling paradox is revealed as it is shown how the government’s ostensible creditors had, in fact, very little "real" money to lend and were instead often reliant for their own solvency upon the very government they were lending to. By following the careers of unsuccessful loan-contractors, who went bankrupt lending to the government, to the triumphant career of the House of Rothschild; who successfully "exported" the British system of war-financing abroad with the coming of peace, the symbiotic relationship that existed between the British government and their ostensible creditors is revealed. Also highlighted is the power granted to the (technically bankrupt) Bank of England over credit and the money supply, an unprecedented and highly influential development that filled many contemporaries with horror. This is a tale of bankruptcy, stock market manipulation, bribery and institutional corruption that continues to exert its influence today and will be of interest to anyone interested in government financing, debt and the origins of modern finance.

Table of Contents

1. Context: The Financial Revolution

2. The Bank of England and the Suspension of Cash Payments (1797–1821)

3. Government Loan Contracting, 1793–1810

4. The House of Rothschild

5. Taxation

6. Peace and Its Consequences, 1815–1821

7. Conclusion

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Simon Sherratt is an economic historian interested in the National Debt, government loan-contracting, credit and "money creation."