Discussion Paper Series 2019 #01: Trading Forward: The Paris Bourse in the Nineteenth Century

Abstract

Contrary to what law and finance theory would predict, the Paris Bourse was highly liquid at the turn of the 20th century: the traded volumes amounted to four times the French GDP. This magnitude was mainly due to forward trading. The Bourse had developed as a forward market, despite a ban on forward transactions. The official stockbrokers played a key role in legitimizing and legalizing these operations, previously equated with gambling. The 1885 legalizing act initiated a new field of law and made possible further regulatory changes that paved the way for the heyday of the Paris Bourse.

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