In the wake of the global financial crisis, it’s clear that many of the issues that preoccupy us today have deep roots in the City’s history. One institution that brings these themes together is the English East India Company (1600-1878). Too big to fail? The Company had a monopoly of all trade with Asia for over 200 years. Boom and bust? Speculation pumped up the Company’s stock price and then dumped it in the ‘Bengal Bubble’ of the 1760s. Crony capitalism? Corruption was often core to the Company’s operations, whether in winning the pivotal battle of Plassey or driving the lucrative opium trade with China.
For an institution that changed the course of global history, its physical legacy is often invisible on the streets of the City today. But enough remains to stimulate reflection on the Company’s impacts in its own times and the contemporary resonance. Walking the Company’s remains gives us a chance of understanding our corporate past so that we can act more effectively in our own times.Read it at NEF — New Economics Foundation
In the shadow of the City: A walk through the history of the Corporation
by Nick Robins, author of The Corporation that Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational
History may not repeat but it sure does rhyme. (h/t Mark Twain)