Standard Contracts as Pathways to Global Markets - the Experience of the London Corn Trade Association (1880-1914)
Professor Jérôme SGARD
Professeur d'économie politique à Sciences Po
Commodity markets were typically governed during the first global era (ca 1870-1914) by private, London-based “Trade Associations”, managed by a small number of top market insiders. One of their key contribution was to write and constantly adjust a set of Standard Contracts, tailored to each specific commodity and to each country or port of origin. These contracts followed the English contract law and were confirmed and eventually enforced by English courts. But such intervention proved extremely rate, just as, more generally the support from government authorities when dealing with foreign countries or authorities. No concern whatsoever was shown either for rules of international law (private or public). Hence, private ordering on a trade basis and self-enforcement worked pretty well within an overall geopolitical order that was clearly imperialist and hegemonic.
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