History of Finance

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Finance, as a study of theory and practice distinct from the field of economics, arose in the 1940s and 1950s with the works of Harry Markowitz, William F. Sharpe, Fischer Black, and Myron Scholes, to name just a few.

 

Particular realms of finance—such as banking, lending, and investing, of course, money itself—have been around since the dawn of civilization in some form or another.

The financial transactions of the early Sumerians were formalized in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (circa 1800 BC). This set of rules regulated ownership or rental of land, employment of agricultural labor, and credit.

Yes, there were loans back then, and yes, interest was charged on them—rates varied depending on whether you were borrowing grain or silver.

By 1200 BC, cowrie shells were used as a form of money in China. Coined money was introduced in the first millennium BC. King Croesus of Lydia (now Turkey) was one of the first to strike and circulate gold coins around 564 BC—hence the expression, “rich as Croesus.”

In ancient Rome, coins were stored in the basement of temples as priests or temple workers were considered the most honest, devout, and safest to safeguard assets. Temples also loaned money, acting as financial centers of major cities

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