The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

History of Forward Contracts (Historical Evidence for Forward Contracts)

  • Kim Oosterlinck
Reference work entry


A forward contract is an agreement between two parties who specify today the terms (price, underlying asset, quantity, etc.) of an exchange that is to take place at a known future date. Forward contracts can be traced to Greek and Roman times, and may have occurred earlier still; they have been widely traded in Europe (and subsequently elsewhere) since the Middle Ages.


Forward contracts Futures 

JEL Classifications

F30 G10 N20 N23 
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Cope, S. 1978. The stock exchange revisited: A new look at the market in securities in London in the eighteenth century. Economica 45(177): 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Einzig, P. 1964. The history of foreign exchange. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  3. Garber, P.M. 2001. Famous first bubbles: The fundamentals of early manias. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  4. Gelderblom, O., and J. Jonker. 2005. Amsterdam as the cradle of modern futures and options trading. In The origins of value: The financial innovations that created modern capital markets, ed. W.N. Goetzmann and K.G. Rouwenhorst. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Poitras, G. 2000. The early history of financial economics, 1478–1776: From commercial arithmetic to life annuities and joint stocks. Cheltenham/Northampton: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  6. Schaede, U. 1989. Forwards and futures in Tokugawa-period Japan: A new perspective on the Dojima rice market. Journal of Banking and Finance 13(4–5): 487–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Van Dillen, J.G. 1927. Termijnhandel te Amsterdam in de 16de en 17de eeuw. De Economist 76: 503–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kim Oosterlinck
    • 1
  1. 1.