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The micro-foundations of the early London capital market: Bank of England shareholders during and after the South Sea Bubble, 1720-25 -super-1

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Using two sources, Bank of England Transfer Books and Stock Ledgers, this article explores the nature of the 'customer base' for Bank shares during and after the South Sea Bubble. This examination uncovers the nature of individual participation in this early capital market. The Transfer Ledgers record roughly 7,000 transfers during 1720, while the Ledger Books from 1720-25 record over 8,000 individuals holding stock. The analysis finds the customer base had breadth and depth, comprising individuals from across the social spectrum, from all over England and Europe. The market was diverse and liquid. Activity during the Bubble came from those living in and around London, with most traders participating in the market only twice at most. While the majority of participants were men, there was a sizeable female presence. Men as a group lost money from their market activity, but women made money. In the five years after the Bubble, the customer base was sustained. The analysis argues that the secondary market in financial assets cannot be dismissed as mere gambling devices, and that the basis for a mutually productive interaction between the financial sector and the real sector of the economy was already in existence and was sustained through the shock of the South Sea Bubble and its collapse. Copyright Economic History Society 2005.

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Article provided by Economic History Society in its journal The Economic History Review.

Volume (Year): 59 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 498-538

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ehsrev:v:59:y:2006:i:3:p:498-538
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