George Dotsis, 10 September 2017

Option trading has grown phenomenally in the last 40 years, but option markets have existed since the early 17th century. This column reviews an option trading manual written by a London trader in 1906. It shows that traders in the 19th century developed sophisticated techniques for determining the prices of short-term calls and puts. They also priced at-the-money-forward straddles the same way they are priced today.

Brandon Dupont, Thomas Weiss, 06 November 2016

The transportation revolution of the 19th century opened up new opportunities for migrant and tourist travel across the North Atlantic. While the impact of this revolution on freight cargoes and, to some extent, mass immigration has been well documented, we know considerably less about non-migrant overseas passenger travel. This column presents data on first class ocean travel fares between the US and the UK from 1826 to 1914, and demonstrates how such data can be gathered from various scattered sources and compiled into a reasonably reliable, representative, and informative long-term time series.

Giovanni Federico, Antonio Tena-Junguito, 07 February 2016

Parallels are often drawn between the Great Recession of the past decade and the economic turmoil of the interwar period. In terms of global trade, these comparisons are based on obsolete and incomplete data. This column re-estimates world trade since the beginning of the 19th century using a new database. The effect of the Great Recession on trade growth is sizeable but fairly small compared with the joint effect of the two world wars and the Great Depression. However, the effects will become more and more comparable if the current trade stagnation continues.

Clemens Jobst, Stefano Ugolini, 23 June 2015

Central banks today provide liquidity exclusively through purchases of (mostly) government bonds and through collateralised open-market operations. This column considers the evolution of liquidity provision by central banks over the past two centuries, and argues that there are alternative approaches to those that are focused on today. One such alternative is a revival of the 19th century practice of uncollateralised lending. This would discourage market participants from relying on informational shortcuts, and reduce the likelihood that informational shocks trigger collateral crises.