Amsterdam, with the advantage of a very favourable geographical position
close to the sea, with the advantage of a hinterland with good access to
the Rhine, Meuse and Scheldt rivers, and at the centre of a vast colonial
empire, was at the end of the 17th century and in the early 18th century
the world s largest financial metropolis. Seeing already a decay during the
18th century, the Napoleonic era marked the end of this flourishing period,
enabling London to benefit from Amsterdam s decline. However, during the
second half of the 19th century, the Amsterdam financial markets took off
again and the city became, after the First World War, once more a financial
centre of major importance.
The confidence enjoyed by the guilder resulted in Amsterdam becoming the
settlement centre for a large number of international trade transactions. The
city also attracted large amounts of foreign capital. This enviable position
was further strengthened by the fact that, unlike many other countries,
the Netherlands did not suffer from the banking crises of 1929-1931. Until
the start of the Second World War, Amsterdam remained the number four
financial centre in the world, after London, New York and Paris.
The disastrous consequences of the Second World War, the loss of the vast
Dutch colonial empire and the widespread postwar economic restrictions
damaged Amsterdam s position, but the city nevertheless remains today
one of Europe s major financial centres.