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The Corporate Economies of America and Europe 1790-1860

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  • Leslie Hannah

    (CIRJE, University of Tokyo and Department of Economic History, London School of Economics)

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    Abstract

    Although early corporate data are sparse, the statistics of individual incorporations by special act in 1790-1860 assembled by Sylla and Wright leave no doubt that new creations of corporations proper in the US rapidly outstripped those in France, Prussia and the UK. However, other limited liability entities - notably commandites (with and without shares) - were earlier and numerous in continental Europe and the numbers of extant companies, and particularly their aggregate paid-up share capitals, were closer together in 1860. It was the UK, not the US, which continued to lead corporatization as measured by the ratio of corporate share capital to GDP and it was not until the twentieth century that the US caught up, while both France and Germany lagged. UK corporate business by the midnineteenth century had more capital because of its access to large integrated markets, a rich menu of corporate forms and low interest rates. Thus, while the distinctive feature of US corporations was that they were small and numerous, UK corporations were larger, more capital-intensive, less prone to disappear and had more dispersed ownership.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo in its series CIRJE F-Series with number CIRJE-F-877.

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    Length: 60 pages
    Date of creation: Feb 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:tky:fseres:2013cf877

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