Journal of European Economic History - 2019 issue 2


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The question of the public debt of the Eastern Mediterranean countries fuelled intense, heated debate both in the debtor countries and among the creditors, mainly in France and Britain. We aim to show how the credibility of the Greek and Ottoman governments was established and discussed in the leading financial centres (Paris and London), and how contracting foreign loans was perceived, managed and questioned in the debtor countries. In a way the three main articles here can be seen as offering a sort of cultural history of public debt in the Eastern Mediterranean from the 1820s up to the First World War. At the same time, the authors refer expressly to the ongoing, changing debates and the hierarchies of prestige and economic power relating to public debt, national creditworthiness and dependence on international capital...
Greek Sovereign Debt and Loans in 19th-Century Public Discourse
This article focuses on a sovereign state, Greece, obliged, virtually from its birth, to repay debt obligations throughout the 19th century. Who were the main actors in a "non-reciprocal" political and economic relationship? Greek politicians, foreign diplomats and financiers, Greek journalists all perceived, negotiated or popularized the theme of Greek sovereign debt and defaults according to different political agendas, cultural backgrounds and expectations. Our chief interest here lies in how the Greek debt story was shaped and presented through the press, a new institution in Greece.
Public Debt after a Defeat: Negotiating the French image of the Ottoman Empire as debtor in the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78
The Ottoman Empire was integrated into European financial markets in the second half of the nineteenth century. During the Crimean War, the Ottoman government turned to foreign loans to fund its state-building policies and military reforms. Britain and France, its allies in that conflict, facilitated this effort, even going so far, exceptionally, as to act as guarantors of the Ottomans’ 1854 bond issue. Accessing the international financial markets via the public debt meant that Ottoman officials had to learn to play by the rules, which were not set in stone but instead were being negotiated in a conflict-laden process. The Ottoman government also had to maintain its international credibility as debtor in the context of a pervasive orientalist discourse in the West that construed the Empire as inherently corrupt and unreliable. This article shows how the credibility of the Ottoman government was established and discussed in France, a great power of the day whose capital was a world financial center and home to many major holders of the Ottoman debt. Relations between the two governments were only one aspect of the question, however. The creditors communicated with one another across national borders, and French public opinion on the Ottoman government’s creditworthiness was shaped by transnational circulation of discourses. There is also another transnational dimension: the fact that debt and international politics inevitably intersected, particularly in the context of warfare, while in the second half of the nineteenth century the rules of the global financial market were still in course of definition.
Fiscal Crisis and Foreign Borrowing in the Ottoman Empire: Historical and Contemporary Discourses and Debates
From the 1850s on, the Ottoman state increasingly resorted to foreign loans in order to finance warfare and the lavish expenditures of the Imperial court, starting down the road to insolvency. In 1875, the Empire, unable to cope with mounting debt and deteriorating financial circumstances in the European markets, defaulted on its loans and ultimately agreed to compromise its financial autonomy by ceding control over more than one-third of state revenues to a foreign controlled council, the Ottoman Public Debt Administration (OPDA). In the last decades of the Empire, the OPDA played a pivotal role in the transformation of the Ottoman economy and became a symbol of western imperialism in the country. Still today, the Ottoman experience with foreign borrowing and the resulting European control of Ottoman finances are occasionally cited by politicians and pundits all along the political spectrum. This paper explores historical and contemporary discourses and debates on Ottoman foreign borrowing and their relevance to contemporary Turkey.
Ottoman and Greek Sovereign Debt and Bankruptcy: A Long-Term Comparative Analysis
The Ottoman and Greek sovereign defaults occurred in the era of major sovereign defaults throughout the Mediterranean, between the 1860s and the 1890s. Credit inflow from the main European financial markets increased and inflated the public debts of countries situated on the periphery of the capitalist world economy. The search for higher investment returns placed European capitals on the periphery of the world economy, especially after the onset of the "Great Depression" in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. In this international environment, widespread administrative mismanagement and an incessant need for financial resources pushed Constantinople and Athens into recurring financial troubles. This article compares, from a long-term perspective, the problems associated with the Ottoman and Greek public debts and consequent bankruptcies, bearing in mind the role of the European powers and the influence of European capitalists.
Luis Miguel Enciso Recio (Valladolid, 1930-Madrid, 2018)
Born in Valladolid in 1930, Luis Miguel Enciso Recio read Letters in that city and earned his doctorate in History in 1955. From the very first he directed his studies to the social and cultural transformations of the eighteenth century in Europe in general and Spain in particular, concentrating specifically on the emergence of the culture of the Enlightenment. His research, conducted indefatigably over the course of more than six decades, made him one of Europe’s greatest experts on the Age of Enlightenment, whose political and intellectual development he recounted and interpreted with extraordinary analytical capacity...
Fabio Casini
Schacht e Norman. Politica e finanza negli anni fra le due guerre mondiali
Rubbettino, Soveria Mannelli 2017, pp. 185.

Giorgio Giannini
L’inutile strage. Controstoria della Prima guerra mondiale
Città di Castello, Luoghi Interiori, 2018, pp. 254.

Paolo Savona
Come un incubo e come un sogno. Memorialia e Moralia di mezzo secolo di storia
Rubettino, Catanzaro, 2018, pp. 342.

Teodoro Tagliaferri
La nazione, le colonie, il mondo. Saggi sulla cultura imperiale britannica (1861-1947)
Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, Rome, 2018.

Laurent Warlouzet
Governing Europe in a Globalizing World. Neoliberalism and its Alternatives following the 1973 Oil Crisis (London and New York: Routledge, “Routledge Studies on Government and the European Union”
2018, pp. xiv+ 274, 8 figures, 11 tables.

Martin Wasserman
Las obligaciones fundamentales. Crédito y consolidacion economica durante el surgimiento de Buenos Aires
Prometeo libros, Buenos Aires, 2018, pp. 1-341.