With these words Daniel Defoe, an English trader, writer, journalist and pamphleteer, described the essence of credit in his book The Complete English Tradesman in 1726. For Defoe, credit was an indispensable part of business life and rooted to the character of the English tradesman. Although Defoe wrote his book almost three hundred years ago, his description is still timely. Recent research has produced a concept where, in the early nineteenth century, business was tightly embedded in social networks and intimately associated with personal trust.2 In Europe, the emergence of the market economy, where public and statutory institutions gradually replaced credit based on personal trust and social networking, occurred variously in different parts of the market. In Holland, this transition had already taken place by the sixteenth century, in England during the seventeenth century and in the Nordic countries as late as the nineteenth century.3