A stock market or equity market is a public (a loose network of economic transactions, not a physical facility or discrete) entity for the trading of company stock (shares) and derivatives at an agreed price; these are securities listed on a stock exchange as well as those only traded privately. The size of the world stock market was estimated at about $36.6 trillion at the start of October 2008.The total world derivatives market has been estimated at about $791 trillion face or nominal value, 11 times the size of the entire world economy. The stocks are listed and traded on stock exchanges which are entities of a corporation or mutual organization specialized in the business of bringing buyers and sellers of the organizations to a listing of stocks and securities together. The largest stock market in the United States, by market capitalization, is the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). In Canada, the largest stock market is the Toronto Stock Exchange. Major European examples of stock exchanges include the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange, Paris Bourse, and the Deutsche Börse (Frankfurt Stock Exchange). In Africa, examples include Nigerian Stock Exchange, JSE Limited, etc. Asian examples include the Singapore Exchange, the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the Shanghai Stock Exchange, and the Bombay Stock Exchange. In Latin America, there are such exchanges as the BM&F Bovespa and the BMV. A few decades ago, worldwide, buyers and sellers were individual investors, such as wealthy businessmen, usually with long family histories to particular corporations. Over time, markets have become more "institutionalized"; buyers and sellers are largely institutions (e.g., pension funds, insurance companies, mutual funds, index funds, exchange-traded funds, hedge funds, investor groups, banks and various other financial institutions). The rise of the institutional investor has brought with it some improvements in market operations. Thus, the government was responsible for "fixed" (and exorbitant) fees being markedly reduced for the 'small' investor, but only after the large institutions had managed to break the brokers' solid front on fees. (They then went to 'negotiated' fees, but only for large institutions.
Established in 1875, the Bombay Stock Exchange is Asia's first stock exchange. In 12th century France the courratiers de change were concerned with managing and regulating the debts of agricultural communities on behalf of the banks. Because these men also traded with debts, they could be called the first brokers. A common misbelief is that in late 13th century Bruges commodity traders gathered inside the house of a man called Van der Beurze, and in 1309 they became the "Brugse Beurse", institutionalizing what had been, until then, an informal meeting, but actually, the family Van der Beurze had a building in Antwerp where those gatherings occurred; the Van der Beurze had Antwerp, as most of the merchants of that period, as their primary place for trading. The idea quickly spread around Flanders and neighboring counties and "Beurzen" soon opened in Ghent and Amsterdam. In the middle of the 13th century, Venetian bankers began to trade in government securities. In 1351 the Venetian government outlawed spreading rumors intended to lower the price of government funds. Bankers in Pisa, Verona, Genoa and Florence also began trading in government securities during the 14th century. This was only possible because these were independent city states not ruled by a duke but a council of influential citizens. Italian companies were also the first to issue shares. Companies in England and the Low Countries followed in the 16th century. The Dutch East India Company (founded in 1602) was the first joint-stock company to get a fixed capital stock and as a result, continuous trade in company stock emerged on the Amsterdam Exchange. Soon thereafter, a lively trade in various derivatives, among...
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