A History of Interest Rates, 4th Edition



The late Sidney Homer published the First Edition of A History of Interest Rates in 1963 because he believed that a comprehensive history of this universal and basic economic and commercial price was necessary. Now in its Fourth Edition, A History of Interest Rates has become a classic in the fields of economics and finance.

This one-of-a-kind guide presents a readable account of interest rate trends and lending practices spanning over four millennia of economic history. Filled with in-depth insights and illustrative charts and tables, this updated Fourth Edition provides a historical perspective of interest rate movements as well as a new chapter of contemporary material and added discussions of interest rate developments over the past ten years.

A sampling of eras and areas covered include:

  • Ancient Times: Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome
  • Medieval Times and Renaissance Europe: Italy, Spain, Germany, France, and more
  • Modern Europe and North America to 1900: England, France, and other European countries, as well as the United States
  • Europe and North America since 1900: England, France, Germany, and Italy, as well as Canada and the United States
  • Other countries and regions in the 1900s: Japan, Russia, China, and Latin America

SIDNEY HOMER, who died in 1983, was a limited partner in Salomon Brothers and was the general partner in charge of the firm's bond market research department. He is best known for his pioneering and analytical works of bond market history and the economic forces that drive bond market trends.

RICHARD SYLLA is Henry Kaufman Professor of the History of Financial Institutions and Markets and a Professor of Economics, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation at NYU's Stern School of Business. He is a past president of the Economic History Association and is a trustee of the Museum of American Financial History.

Foreword by Dr. Henry Kaufman.

Preface to the Fourth Edition.

Summary Tables.

Summary Charts.


Part One: Ancient Times.

1. Prehistoric and Primitive Credit and Interest.

2. Mesopotamia: Sumer, Babylonia, and Assyria.

3. Greece.


5. A Summary and Analysis of Ancient Interest Rates.

Part Two: Medieval and Renaissance Europe.

6. Usury Doctrines and Their Effect on European Credit Forms and Interest.

7. The Dark Ages.

8. Late Medieval Times.

9. The Renaissance.

10. A Summary and Analysis of Medieval and Renaissance Interest Rates in Western Europe.

Part Three: Modern Europe and North America to 1900.

11. England in the Eighteenth Century.

12. Europe in the Eighteenth Century.

13. England in the Nineteenth Century.

14. France in the Nineteenth Century.

15. Other European Countries in the Nineteenth Century.

16. The United States in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.

Part Four: Europe and North America Since 1900.

17. The United States in the Twentieth Century: 1900–1945.

18. The United States in the Twentieth Century: 1946–1990.

19. England in the Twentieth Century.

20. Europe in the Twentieth Century: France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy.

21. Europe in the Twentieth Century: Switzerland, Austria, Scandinavia, Ireland, Iberia, and Turkey.

22. Canada in the Twentieth Century.

23. Summary and Analysis of Interest Rates in Europe and North America Since 1700.

Part Five: Other Countries and the 1990’s.

24. Japan.

25. The Old Sterling Area: Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, and Pakistan.

26. Russia.

27. China.

28. Latin America.

29. Turn of the Millennium: 1990–2005.