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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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  • ANN M. CARLOS
  • LARRY NEAL

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Ann M. Carlos & Larry Neal, 2006. "The micro-foundations of the early London capital market: Bank of England shareholders during and after the South Sea Bubble, 1720-25 -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 59(3), pages 498-538, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ehsrev:v:59:y:2006:i:3:p:498-538
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Peter L. Rousseau, 2003. "Historical perspectives on financial development and economic growth," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 81-106.
    2. Gauci, Perry, 2001. "The Politics of Trade: The Overseas Merchant in State and Society, 1660-1720," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199241934.
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    Cited by:

    1. Anne L. Murphy, 2009. "Trading options before Black-Scholes: a study of the market in late seventeenth-century London -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 62(s1), pages 8-30, August.
    2. Ann M. Carlos & Erin Fletcher & Larry Neal, 2015. "Share portfolios in the early years of financial capitalism: London, 1690–1730," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(2), pages 574-599, May.
    3. Stasavage, David, 2016. "What we can learn from the early history of sovereign debt," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 1-16.
    4. Ann M. (Ann Martina) Carlos & Karen Maguire & Larry Neal, 2008. "“A knavish people ... so dextrous in bargaining that it is impossible for Christians to expect any advantage in their dealings with them” : London Jewry and the stockmarket during the South Sea Bubble," Working Papers 200806, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    5. Yang Hu & Les Oxley, 2017. "Exuberance in Historical Stock Prices during the Mississippi and South Seas Bubble Episodes," Working Papers in Economics 17/08, University of Waikato.
    6. Hilt, Eric, 2008. "When did Ownership Separate from Control? Corporate Governance in the Early Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(03), pages 645-685, September.
    7. Stephen Quinn, 2008. "Securitization of Sovereign Debt: Corporations as a Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism in Britain, 1694-1750," Working Papers 200701, Texas Christian University, Department of Economics.
    8. Gary S. Shea, 2011. "A Social Network for Trade and Inventories of Stock during the South Sea Bubble," CDMA Working Paper Series 201110, Centre for Dynamic Macroeconomic Analysis.
    9. Andrew Mays & Gary S. Shea, 2011. "East India Company and Bank of England Shareholders during the South Sea Bubble: Partitions, Components and Connectivity in a Dynamic Trading Network," CDMA Working Paper Series 201109, Centre for Dynamic Macroeconomic Analysis.
    10. Condorelli, Stefano, 2014. "The 1719-20 stock euphoria: a pan-European perspective," MPRA Paper 68652, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Dec 2015.
    11. repec:eee:ecolet:v:162:y:2018:i:c:p:131-134 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Hu, Yang & Oxley, Les, 2018. "Do 18th century ‘bubbles’ survive the scrutiny of 21st century time series econometrics?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 131-134.
    13. Gary S. Shea, 2011. "(Re)financing the Slave Trade with the Royal African Company in the Boom Markets of 1720," CDMA Working Paper Series 201114, Centre for Dynamic Macroeconomic Analysis.

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