The Great Game

For centuries, the stock market has been the game of choice for people interested in investing their money in risky but possibly profitable ventures. The stock market is often described as “the great game” since it takes a combination of skill and luck to strike gold in this dynamic and highly competitive world.

The origin of this great game can be traced back to 12th century France, where so called courratiers de change made a living managing the debts of agricultural communities on behalf of banks. These courratiers de change could buy and sell debts and was thus an early form of financial market brokers.

During the 14th century, bankers in Venice began trading in government securities. The trade became so significant that the Venetian government was compelled to issue a law in 1351 forbidding the spreading of rumors intended to lower the price of government funds. From Venice, the great game of dealing in government securities spread to the nearby city states Pisa, Genoa, Florence and Verona. What these five city states had in common was that they were independent, i.e. not ruled by duke but by a council of citizens.

Considering the abovementioned piece of Italian financial history, it is not surprising that Italian companies were the first to began issuing shares. Companies in England and the Low Countries followed in suit, and the Dutch East India Company (founded in 1602) became historical by being the first joint-stock company to establish a fixed capital stock. Continous trade in company stock emerged as a result – the great game of stock trading had truly started.

Now, the center of financial innovation was no longer Italian city states but Amsterdam, the thriving capital of the Low Countries. It was here that trade in derivatives, options and repos was firmly established, adding new fascinating aspects to the great game. As early as 1610 the government decided to ban a new invention that remains as controversial today as it was back then – short selling.

Today, people all over the world engage in the tantalizing game of stock market trading and even those that don't are affected by the events of the equity market. Amsterdam is no longer the heart of stock trading; it is instead in New York – a city known as New Amsterdam from 1625 to 1673.

The largest stock market in the world, measured by average daily trading volume and overall market capitalization, is the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE. New York is also home NASDAQ, the world's second largest stock market.

New York Stock Exchange, NYSE

For many, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is more or less synonymous with the great game that is stock trading. Located on the iconic Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, NYSE averaged a daily trading value slightly above 153 billion U.S. dollar in 2008. The NYSE trading floor is located at 11 Wall Street and consists of four trading rooms where the game of trading takes place. Since NYSE's merger with the electronic stock exchange Euronext in 2007, the exchange is operated by NYSE Euronext.

In 1966 the NYSE Composite Index was created and given a value of 50 points, based on the market closing on December 31, 1965. Unlike the Dow Jones Industrial Average, founded by Charles Dow in 1896, the NYSE Composite Index reflects the value of a very large number of stocks traded on NYSE. (The Dow Jones started out with 12 stocks from leading U.S. industries and was increased to 30 stocks in 1928.) The NYSE Composite Index covers over 2,000 common stocks listed on NYSE, including roughly 360 companies that are not based in the United States. Of the 100 included companies with the largest market capitalization, 55 are not based in the U.S. In 2003, the NYSE Composite Index set a new base value of 5,000 points based on the market closing on December 31, 2002.

In the New York Stock Exchange, the great game of trading takes place Monday to Friday from 09:30 to 16:00 EST.

NASDAQ

The NASDAQ Stock Market, also known simply as NASDAQ, has nearly 2,900 listed companies and more trading volume than any other electronic stock exchange in the world. Since 1998, NASDAQ is headquartered in New York. Before the relocation it was based in Washington D.C.

The acronym NASDAQ originally stood for National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations, but that is no longer the formal name. NASDAQ uses a screen-based system for trading and is operated by the NASDAQ OMX Group.

NASDAQ has four indices:

If you wish to use NASDAQ to participate in the stock trading game, these are the opening hours:


Nasdaq OMX Nordic

NASDAQ OMX Nordic cover markets for Helsinki, Copenhagen, Iceland, Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius and Stockholm. For more info on these nordic markets, visit nasdaqomx.com or read more about nordic economy on sverigekredit.se.

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