Photo: Satish Krishnamurthy, Flickr Creative Commons

This Week in Trading History: Bear Stearns & Vanguard Open For Business

This week in trading history we see the birth of two big players on Wall Street, one notably more successful than the other, along with Margaret Thatcher handed the keys to 10 Downing Street and President Hoover making a rather misguided prediction...

26th April

If you read last week’s Trading History you’ll remember the birth of retail giant Woolworth’s founder Frank Winfield Woolworth. On this day we see the very imminent decline of the Woolworths chain. Woolworths' balance sheet for the first quarter of the fiscal year was released and showed operating losses of $24 million. This unfortunately wasn’t surprising as in the previous fiscal year they’d experienced a loss of $37 million. Later in the year, Woolworth’s finally shut its remaining doors.

27th April


On a historic day in South Africa, the country's first ever multiracial Parliamentary Elections saw Nelson Mandela of the ANC party elected as President of South Africa. The day is now a public holiday in South Africa.

28th April


The re-election hopes of Prime Minister Gordon Brown were dealt a fatal blow as his 'hot mic' caught him insulting pensioner Gillian Duffy, calling her a ‘bigoted woman’ following a confrontation on the campaign trail.

29th April

The U.S. government claimed that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill was an “incident of national significance”. It was estimated that five thousand barrels of oil was leaking into the ocean per day, after an explosion on a B.P operated rig. The next day the oil hit the coast of Louisiana and caused a huge amount of damage to the marine and wildlife.

30th April

The Land Rover (Series 1) was shown for the first time at the Amsterdam Car Show. The Land Rover was the first mass-produced civilian four-wheel drive car with doors on it. The Series 1 was originally priced at £450, today that would equate to around £4,000 - so still a rather cheap car. Unlike the new Land Rover Defender 90 which is priced from £40,330.

The United States and the European Union agreed to a new translantic economic partnership which attempted to boost trade and investment by harmonizing the regulatory standards and a US-EU single market. The single market guarantees the free movement of goods, capital, service and labour. The United Kingdom is still included in this trade deal during the Brexit transition period.

1st May

Nikola Tesla was granted a patent for the “electrical transmission of power”.

Bear Stearns was founded with $500,000 in capital. Once one of the most important investment banks on Wall Street, as soon as the 2008 financial crisis came around Bear Stearns quickly deteriorated. The company’s share price fell from $171, to $2 a share in just one year and it was at this share price that JP Morgan eventually bought the company on the 16th March 2008.

Today was the last day to handover your gold. After the Executive order 6102 had been passed, outlawing the ownership of gold, Americans had less than one month to had over their gold in return for $20.67 per ounce or face a $10,000 fine or 10 years in prison. Many were prosecuted under this act.

Vanguard, the mutual funds company, began operating. John Bogle, Vanguard's founder, launched with 11 funds and $1.8 billion under management. Today Vanguard operates around 190 U.S. funds and about 230 funds outside of the U.S, with about $6.2 trillion AUM.

2nd May

President Hoover gave an optimistic speech that stated that the stock market crash (six months earlier) was a temporary setback and would soon pass. Unfortunately for Hoover the Great Depression continued for a further five years.

Bill Gates, apparently unshaven and unwashed, presented Excel to the people of New York City for the first time. However dishevelled Gates looked, the presentation was a great success and he was able to get Steve Jobs to endorse the software. It is estimated that today over 750 million people world-wide use Excel and is deemed Microsoft's most important product.

3rd May

Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s first female prime minister. Some would argue that Lady Thatcher’s influence on economic philosophy was radical, however government spending at the time she was in power was down and the economy was growing.

The Dow Jones closed above 11,000 for the first time.