The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

National Debt

  • Barry Gordon
Reference work entry


In its modern sense, national debt emerged first in Florence and other Italian city-republics of the 15th century. Thereafter, the practice spread throughout Europe and was taken up by leading nation–states, including Spain, France and Holland. In England there were moves towards a more orderly system of public borrowings after the advent of William of Orange in 1688. The first permanent arrangements were introduced in 1715 (Dickson 1967). Assumption of state debts and establishment of related provisions for funding were undertaken by the Federal Government in the United States in 1790, with Alexander Hamilton the principal architect of the structure (Kimmel 1959).

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry Gordon
    • 1
  1. 1.