Exchange Alley

           Long before New York became a financial capital of North America, let alone the world, London already had the institutions befitting a city of finance and commerce. The Royal Exchange had been founded by merchant and advisor to the monarch, Sir Thomas Gresham in 1571. Lloyd’s of London would be founded in a coffeehouse a

Pricing in Eighths

           Up until the year 2000, stock exchanges in the US quoted share prices in eighths. That meant the smallest increment that a stock could move was one-eighth of a dollar, nothing less. In the normal course of a trading day, one share of FedEx would trade hands at $14.125 or $14.25 but nothing in between.

The Bank of England’s Weathervane

           For better or worse, forecasting has become part of economists’ repertoires. But, given the delays involved in collecting and summarizing data into regular reports on the economy’s health, using more frequently compiled or even real-time data is an art in itself. Trying to make sense of the overall economy by looking at minute-by-minute movements in

How Stamps Funded a War

           Ever since late medieval Italian city-states sold bonds to finance wars, the availability of debt financing has been crucial to the war-fighting ability of almost every country. However, not until the 20th century did their financing become a public affair. War Bonds played a significant role in civilian participation in the war effort during both

The Tontine Coffee-House

           Those who know a bit about New York’s financial past have almost certainly heard of the Buttonwood Agreement. In 1792, two dozen stockbrokers signed a now famous pact agreeing to trade directly with each other, bypassing any middlemen, under a Buttonwood tree on Wall Street. This agreement standardized trading between them and is thus thought

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