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theory and practice of conducting large public and private dealings in money. Important institutions of private finance include those that deal with insuranceinsurance
or assurance,
device for indemnifying or guaranteeing an individual against loss. Reimbursement is made from a fund to which many individuals exposed to the same risk have contributed certain specified amounts, called premiums.
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, bankingbanking,
primarily the business of dealing in money and instruments of credit. Banks were traditionally differentiated from other financial institutions by their principal functions of accepting deposits—subject to withdrawal or transfer by check—and of making loans.
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, stocks (see stockstock,
in finance, instrument certifying to shares in the ownership of a corporation. Bonds are similar evidences of shares in a loan to a corporation. Stock yields no dividends until claims of bondholders have been met.
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), bonds, and other securities. With the development of the national state, public finance—the management of the revenues, expenditures, and debts of the state—has been of great political, as well as economic, importance. The most important source of government revenue is taxes, but sale of public properties and franchises, as well as the sale of interest-bearing bonds, also contribute. Since the Korean War, a large part of governmental expenditures has gone for various military and defense needs. Other important areas of governmental expenditure are health, education, and welfare (the Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid programs); interest on the national debt; and public works. Important institutions of international finance are the International Bank for Reconstruction and DevelopmentInternational Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)
(IBRD), independent specialized agency of the United Nations, with headquarters at Washington, D.C.; one of five closely associated development institutions (also including the International Center for Settlement of
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 and the International Monetary FundInternational Monetary Fund
(IMF), specialized agency of the United Nations, established in 1945. It was planned at the Bretton Woods Conference (1944), and its headquarters are in Washington, D.C.
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See D. Allen, Finance (1983); D. Swain, Managing Public Money (1987); L. Harris et al., ed., New Perspectives on the Financial System (1988); N. Gianaris, Contemporary Public Finance (1989).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


See also Money.
the Paris stock exchange. [Fr. Commerce: Misc.]
Dow Jones
the best known of several U.S. indexes of movements in price on Wall Street. [Am. Hist.: Payton, 202]
Lombard Street
London bankers’ row; named for 13th-century Italian moneylenders. [Br. Hist.: Plumb, 15]
Old Lady of Threadneedle Street
nickname for the Bank of England. [Br. Culture: Misc.]
goddess of commerce. [Gk. Myth.: Kravitz, 88]
Rockefeller, John
D(avison) (1839–1937) multimillionaire oil tycoon and financier, [Am. Hist.: EB, VIII: 623]
Throgmorton Street
location of Stock Exchange; by extension, financial world. [Br. Hist.: Brewer Dictionary, 1079]
Wall Street N.Y.C.
financial district. [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 530]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. funds or the provision of funds
2. funds; financial condition
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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