Monday, May 17, 2010

On This Date in 1792

Twenty-four stock brokers -- Founding and Subsequent Fathers -- lolled about under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street in New York. The twenty-four had devised a scheme to organize under a constitution that would leave auctioneers -- and eventually, everyone else -- out of the arcane price machinations of corn and linen and other things that people don't think much about. Except when someone -- a stock broker, let's say -- invites them to "get in on" a "deal" involving such things. Or some other things that aren't even that real. ''Just sign it! We'll get you a tricorn. Sheesh...''The brave economists insisted that they would work with each other exclusively and collect one guarter of one percent commission on any trade. And then they decided to meet in a coffee house so that no one would accuse them of soaking up at a public house when they hit the wrong letter, or sell a large number of liquid futures contracts, causing a panic sell-off which briefly wipes out a trillion dollars or so in market capital.
That was The Buttonwood Agreement, a quaint relic and the beginning of the early New York Stock & Exchange Board, which changed its name to "New York Stock Exchange." Or, more commonly, "gambling."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Should be a national holiday.