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date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter surveys the development of the world’s leading financial centres since the early nineteenth century, with particular attention to their working mechanisms, international influence, competition and cooperation, and rise and decline. In addition to the conditions for the development of international financial centres identified by contemporary economic and financial literature (such as political stability, strong currency, light tax burden, skilled workforce, efficient communications, and so on), the chapter emphasizes, from a long-term historical perspective, other factors of success and failure, in particular the economic power of the country hosting an international financial centre; the effects of major wars which, even more than financial crises, have affected the destiny of financial centres; and path dependency: once established, most financial centres have experienced remarkable longevity. From this perspective, it is not surprising that the financial debacle of 2008 has not fundamentally altered the hierarchy of international financial centres.

Keywords: financial centres, economic power, wars, financial crises, path dependency

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