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The dissertation consists of three essays, two are in financial economic history and co-authored. The third essay is single authored and relates to empirical monetary economics. The unifying threat is the examination of capital markets and their ability to allocate capital efficiently in the presence of risk. The historical analyses suggest that contrary to public opinion, the foreign sovereign bond section of the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in the 19th century allocated capital to risky borrowers quite efficiently. In contrast the contemporary case shows that the banking system did not transmit the monetary stimulus effectively to SMEs, after controlling for domestic risk factors.