British Overseas Investment in the Nineteenth Century by P. L. Cottrell (auth.)

By P. L. Cottrell (auth.)

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The market enabled investors to alter their portfolios but, while the length of the official list of quoted stocks was impressive, there was only an active market in a limited range of securities, particularly during financial slumps. While the Stock Exchange was essentially a secondary market, it was responsible in two respects for the introduction of securities to the London market. Both brokers and jobbers acted as arbitrageurs and, in the case of American railroad securities, arbitrage transactions were important in moving unknown shares and bonds to Britain, though their method of introduction caused some disquiet.

Of new funds at the half year in bank deposits and the debentures of the land finance companies in the late 1880s, when Australian pastoral borrowing reached a peak of £5m. per annum [2; 6]. Scottish capital was also important in the flow westwards across the Atlantic. The characteristic of Scottish investment in the United States was the use of the investment trust and the land-mortgage company, financial intermediaries which had been developed in Aberdeen during the late 1830s. Four investment trusts were established in Edinburgh during the 1870s and four in Dundee, and by the end of the decade these companies had placed £4·25m.

Turkey raised a public loan on the London and Parisian markets every year from 1869 to 1874, and by the early 1870s the servicing costs involved could only be met by fresh borrowing, either publicly or privately. Peru and Egypt by the mid-1870s were also in this parlous financial position. Purchases of American Federal bonds increased during 1869, but it was not until 1872 that the volume of railway issues, mainly of established eastern lines, reached boom proportions. Though lending declined after 1872, the London market was hardly affected by the Krach in Vienna in the spring of 1873 and the New York railway panic of the autumn.

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