consols, contraction of consolidated annuities, a bond issue designed to consolidate two or more outstanding issues, used in reference to British government stock. Public borrowing began in England with the establishment of the Bank of England and the national debt (1693–94), and the growth of the debt produced a confusing variety of stocks. Prime Minister Henry Pelham began to consolidate existing stocks in 1751. The consolidated stocks had a fixed rate of interest, or annuity, payable by the Bank of England, with premiums to be paid if the market conditions justified such payments. Consols bore no maturity date and were redeemable on call by the government. During the late 19th and early 20th cent., consols constituted the major part of the national debt and were thus a reliable index to the state of national credit.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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