• Banking and Finance in Historical Perspective
Archiv – Artikel

39. Jahrgang | Jahr 2013 | Heft 1


Aufsatz: Seite 20–39

Korinna Schönhärl
Warum Geld für Hellas? Die Verschuldung Griechenlandsin den 1880er-Jahren
Why Money for Hellas? Greece's Foreign Debt in the 1880s — It is not only in the present day that Greece is seen as a shaky candidate for foreign direct investments. The situation in the 19th century was similar. Nevertheless the country borrowed large sums during its struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire in the 1820s and in the phase of the foundation of the state. By 1843 Greece was no longer able to service her foreign debt. The country was therefore excluded from further bond issues on the European stock markets for more than 30 years. Entry into the Latin Monetary Union (1868) and an amicable settlement with creditors (1878) opened the way for raising new capital on the European financial markets at the end of the 1870s. Using the example of the German banker Gerson von Bleichröder, who participated in the emission of a Greek loan in 1889, this paper examines why European bankers were willing to emit Greek bonds in amounts which by far exceeded the country's ability to pay during a new phase of indebtedness (1878-1893). It seems that the relatively low profit expectations could not have been the main motivation for von Bleichröder's willingness to become involved. Rather it can be assumed that the bond issue was made in order to maintain and strengthen von Bleichröder's close relationship with the German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who was one of the cornerstones of von Bleichröder's business success and who used the loan as a political instrument to apply pressure on Greek politics.