The World's First Stock Exchange

Front Cover
Columbia University Press, May 27, 2014 - Business & Economics - 306 pages
This account of the sophisticated financial hub that was 17th-century Amsterdam “does a fine job of bringing history to life” (Library Journal).
 
The launch of the Dutch East India Company in 1602 initiated Amsterdam’s transformation from a regional market town into a dominant financial center. The Company introduced easily transferable shares, and within days buyers had begun to trade them. Soon the public was engaging in a variety of complex transactions, including forwards, futures, options, and bear raids, and by 1680 the techniques deployed in the Amsterdam market were as sophisticated as any we practice today.

Lodewijk Petram’s award-winning history demystifies financial instruments by linking today’s products to yesterday’s innovations, tying the market’s operation to the behavior of individuals and the workings of the world around them. Traveling back in time, Petram visits the harbor and other places where merchants met to strike deals. He bears witness to the goings-on at a notary’s office and sits in on the consequential proceedings of a courtroom. He describes in detail the main players, investors, shady characters, speculators, and domestic servants and other ordinary folk, who all played a role in the development of the market and its crises. His history clarifies concerns that investors still struggle with today—such as fraud, the value of information, trust and the place of honor, managing diverging expectations, and balancing risk—and does so in a way that is vivid, relatable, and critical to understanding our contemporary world.
 

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Contents

1 A WorldFamous Book
1
2 A New Company
7
3 Early Share Trading
35
4 Angry Shareholders
51
5 Fraud
77
6 The First Boom
100
7 Jewish Traders
122
8 Information
143
11 Crisis
202
12 The WorldFamous Book Again
228
Epilogue
237
Acknowledgments and Overview of Literature and Sources
245
Notes
259
Glossary
275
Bibliography
279
Index
285

9 Trading Clubs
165
10 Speculation
184

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About the author (2014)

Lodewijk Petram is an economist and historian and regularly publishes on financial history in Dutch journals and newspapers. The Dutch edition of this book won the Dirk Jacob Veegens Prize from the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities.

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