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Stock markets play an important role in pretty much the economies of every country in the world. On the big picture side of things, they are key economic driving forces and oftentimes facilitate growth, and on the smaller-scale, they influence and affect the wealth of the average family and household’s spending and consumption.
Today, stock markets make the financial world go ‘round and has some effect on just about everything we do. Of course, everything has to start somewhere, so let’s take a quick look at three interesting facts about how stock markets as we know them today started out.
A Map of Antwerp, Early 1600s
The Flemish city of Antwerp, Belgium, was home to the Van der Beurze family, who were influential figures in the events key to and the eventual institutionalization of the systems that would lead to the stock market systems of today, and as a result, early stock markets were called Beurzen (or “Bourse” in English).
A 17th Century Etching of the Headquarters of the East India Company in Amsterdam
The Dutch East India Company – known as the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) in Dutch – was established in 1602, and has quite a few firsts to its credit: it is considered to be the most successful major corporation in history; it was the first transnational corporation; it was the very first company to be listed on an official stock exchange in Amsterdam, the forerunner of the Dutch Stock Exchange; and it was the first company to offer bonds and shares of stock to the general public.
The Amsterdam Stock Exchange was established by (and at the same time as) the Dutch East India Company in 1602, and it began trading the company’s bonds and shares of stock. The Exchange’s building, then known as the “Beurs van Hendrick de Keyser” (pictured above), was built by Hendrick de Keyser some time around 1611-1612 (it was later demolished in 1835).