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A brief perspective on merchant banking, and our name
Merchant Banking


Merchant banks first arose in the Italian states in the Middle Ages, when Italian merchant houses, generally small, family-owned import-export and commodity trading businesses, began to use their excess capital, marketing and trading platforms to finance foreign trade in return for a share of the profits.


In the early 1900’s, J. Pierpont Morgan worked in what could be described as merchant banking across many groundbreaking transactions. These included funding Edison Electric and eventually merging it with Thomson Houston Electric to create General Electric, and the rollup of Carnegie Steel and Federal Steel to become U.S. Steel.


The FDIC defines merchant banking as negotiated private equity investment by financial institutions in the unregistered securities of either privately or publicly held companies.


We trust that our definition of merchant banking will ring true to the traditions of the trade.

Our Namesake - John Locke (1632-1704)


John Locke was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and known as the “Father of Classical Liberalism”. His work greatly affected the development of epistemology and political philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire, Adam Smith, many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, and many American revolutionaries, notably Thomas Jefferson. His contributions to classical republicanism and libertarian theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence.


Locke’s theory of mind is often cited as the origin of modern conceptions of identity and the self, figuring prominently in the work of later philosophers such as Hume, Rousseau, and Kant. Locke was the first to define the self through a continuity of consciousness. He postulated that, at birth, the mind was a blank slate or tabula rasa. Contrary to Cartesian philosophy based on pre-existing concepts, he maintained that we are born without innate ideas, and that knowledge is instead determined only by experience derived from sense perception. He was in all manners a proponent of Natural Law and seeker of the truth.


At the most fundamental level, Locke embodied the “highly pragmatic generalist” approach that we at J. Locke & Co believe in, and adhere to, in our work efforts.  Building upon his concept of the self, Locke noted that to discover truths beyond the realm of basic experience, an approach modeled on the rigorous methods of experimental science was required.  This is exactly what he did, contributing along the way to fundamental concepts behind democratic governments, freedom of religion, the definition of property, and educational methods/objectives.


Interestingly, during his time, his prolific thoughts, approach, and theory were considered highly controversial. They were however grounded in fact, instinct, and research, which have more than stood the test of time, adding a great deal of value to humanity along the way.

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