Coates J., Gurnell M. & Rustichini A. (2009) Girls can’t trade

November 26, 2009

Coates, John M., Mark Gurnell and Aldo Rustichini (2009) Second-to-fourth digit ratio predicts success among high-frequency financial traders. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 106/2: 623-8.


What does traders’ success on the market floor depend on? Earlier studies have shown that one’s level of testosterone did affect one’s daily results. Since “prenatal androgens have organizing effects on the developing brain, increasing its later sensitivity to […] testosterone”, it would make sense that prenatal androgens also have a structural effect on a trader’s results on the long term. Read the rest of this entry »

Murphy A. (2009) The smartest boys in the alley, early derivatives on the London stock market

October 24, 2009

Murphy, Anne L. (2009) Trading options before Black-Scholes: a study of the market in late seventeenth-century London. Economic History Review, 62/1: 8-30.

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The ledger of the financial broker Charles Blunt contains the details of some 1,500 transactions realized between 1692 and 1695, about a third of which regard the then novel trade in equity options (p.9). The technique had arisen in the 1620s in the commodity market and was proving very useful in the decade following the Glorious Revolution, when some 100 joint-stock companies were floated in London  (p.10). During the boom of the early 1690s, it is likely that “several thousand derivatives were transacted each year”.

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Murphy A. (2006) The Financial Revolution: a supply-side story (for real)

October 9, 2009

Murphy, Anne L. (2006) “Dealing with Uncertainty: Managing Personal Investment in the Early English National Debt”, History, 91/302, 200-17.

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The sums involved in the so-called English Financial Revolution following the arrival on the throne of William III were altogether not that important: £6.9m from 1688 to 1702 while the government budget over the period reached £72m. However, “the impact of those novel methods of fund-raising was considerable”. In particular because small wealth-owners represented a large share of these early investors (p.201). Samuel Jeake, a merchant from Rye (East Sussex) was one of those small investors. He recorded his thought and his transactions in a diary and a few letters (p.202). Read the rest of this entry »


September 21, 2009

Today, Chris [I couldn’t find his last name] at History of Economics Playground posted a note on a recent seminar in Duke University about Krugman’s article on the state of economics (mentioned here).

Speaking of Krugman, he wrote a small post on the history of contemporary macroeconomics. It’s worth reading if you already read the aforementioned article.

And here’s a Short History of Small Times in Wall Street by David Silver, former president of the Investment Company Institute (1977-1991), on the legality of the profits of reducing the time invested in buying and selling stocks.

Frehen R., Goetzmann W. and Rouwenhorst G. (2009) Why invest in the bubbles?

August 31, 2009

Frehen, Rik, William Goetzmann and Geert Rouwenhorst (2009) “New Evidence on the First Financial Bubbles”, Yale international Center for Finance, Working Paper 04, 24p.

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This article is available online.

Why did investors decide to bet on the various companies that would form the three 1720 bubbles in France, England and the Netherlands? (p.1). How did these bubbles affect companies which unlike the Compagnie des Indes and the South Sea Company were neither involved in the Atlantic trade nor in public finance?

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Carlos A., Key J. and Dupree J. (1998) Early finance’s learning curve

August 10, 2009

Carlos, Ann M., Jennifer Key and Jill L. Dupree (1998) “Learning and the Creation of Stock-Market Institutions: Evidence from the Royal African and Hudson’s Bay Companies, 1670-1700”, The Journal of Economic History, 58/2: 318-344.

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Disclaimer: this summary is written by the blog and not by the authors of the article. Any mistake is Manuel’s fault.


“England’s emergence as an international trading nation in the seventeenth century can be linked to the growth of trading arrangements that allowed for a longer life of capital either […] as a joint-stock trading company” (p.318).

According to North and Weingast’s famous thesis this emergence was made possible by the reforms brought by the 1688 Glorious Revolution. However the authors underline the fact that markets don’t grow instantaneously and it takes some times for the actors to learn how to use the market (p.319). Read the rest of this entry »