The papers published in this book were first presented at an international conference at the University of Geneva on 9–11 October 2008. The spectre of a collapse of the international financial system was still very present and inevitably oriented some of the conference’s questioning and debates. The papers were presented and discussed again, with the participation of a wider audience, at the 15th World Economic History Congress in Utrecht (session M6), 3–7 August 2009. Papers by Marc Flandreau and Juan Flores on bond underwriting, and by Youssef Cassis and Boris Lachat on Swiss banking secrecy have not been included in the book.
The editors would like to express their gratitude to the Swiss National Science Foundation for financing the conference in Geneva, and to the Department of Economic History of the University of Geneva for organizing it. They would also like to thank the chairs and commentators as well as all participants to both conferences for their helpful remarks and comments, which enhanced the quality of the debates and ultimately the chapters of this book.