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How Pirates Created The World's Millionaires

The share market is one of the most exciting places in the money world – and new technology means that now anyone can get a piece of the action.

29 October 2021

Every year billions of dollars’ worth of shares are traded around the globe, as people invest in shares of new and established businesses. Fortunes are made (and sometimes lost).

But you might not realise that there weren’t any share markets until the 1500s.

Before that, animals (stock), wool and vegetables were sold at town markets, but it wasn’t until ‘brokers’ helped people swap agricultural debts in France in the 1100s that you could see a kind of exchange being set up.

Then in Italy in the 1400s, merchants started trading government borrowings. It was in Belgium that the first market for government lending was set up by the Van Der Beurze family, called ‘beurzen’. Even today, stock exchanges are sometimes called ‘bourses’.

International trade has always been part of the world’s economy, as traders with sailing ships took goods around the world and returned with exotic treasures. Soon people started investing in these trading companies.

The East India Company was the world’s first public company, selling shares to lots of partners to help spread the risk of shipwreck destroying their shipments or pirates stealing them. Each investor shared the risk – and the profits.

But there still weren’t official stock exchanges. Coffee shops were where people met to buy and sell hand-written shares.

People quickly learned to buy shares in the hottest new companies and trading across Europe became crazy, in unproven ventures that often sank without trace. The English government was so worried about people losing everything they owned in dodgy shares, it banned the issuing of shares until 1825.

Despite that, the London Stock Exchange was set up in 1801, but it was of limited use because of the ban. However, in the United States, first the Philadelphia and then the New York exchanges became very powerful.

Now you’ll find exchanges in many countries. In 1971, the NASDAQ stock exchange was set up in competition to the New York stock exchange by a group of dealers and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. The NASDAQ ushered in a new era of computer trading.

NASDAQ isn’t a physical building, because all the share trades are held on a network of computers. Since then, technology has played a big part in stock exchanges and millions of trades can now be made within seconds.

Technology protects people too. In 2012, the New York exchange created a ‘single-stock circuit breaker’ which will automatically halt trading if it detects that a crash is likely to happen.

Now people can sit at home and easily buy and sell shares with or without the help of a broker, and a new world has opened up.

Tools like ASB Securities’ trading platform help people invest with just a few clicks of their phone or computer.

ASB Securities is an online share trading service and offer a hub for customers where they can research, track and monitor their share portfolio, buy and sell NZ shares from $15*, and access tools, like its watchlist function. You can get started and find opportunities worthy of Wall Street at www.asb.co.nz/sharetrading.

ASB Securities Limited is an NZX firm. ASB Securities terms and conditions apply. ASB Cash Management Account, ASB Foreign Currency Account, ASB Margin Lending and ASB Term Deposits are provided by ASB Bank Limited. ASB term's apply.

*New Zealand equity trades up to and including $1,000 by transaction value. Excludes international equity and fixed trades. To be eligible, you must trade online and settle your trades through ASB Cash Management Account or ASB Foreign Currency Account. ASB Securities terms and conditions apply. ASB’s terms apply. Rates are subject to change.

This article was brought to you by ASB Securities Limited. JUNO does not contain financial advice as defined by the Financial Advisers Act 2008. Consult a suitably qualified financial adviser before making investment decisions. This story reflects the views of the contributor only. Content comes from sources that JUNO considers accurate, but we do not guarantee that the content is accurate.

Informed Investor's content comes from sources that Informed Investor magazine considers accurate, but we do not guarantee its accuracy. Charts in Informed Investor are visually indicative, not exact. The content of Informed Investor is intended as general information only, and you use it at your own risk.


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