Anglo-American brewers and the London securities market, 1888-92 (article)

Mary A. O’Sullivan, “Yankee Doodle went to London: Anglo-American breweries and the London securities market, 1888-92,” Economic History Review, published online March 2015


The enthusiasm of British portfolio investors for US industry in the late 1880s has been seen as evidence of the liberalism of the London Stock Exchange and the conservatism of the New York Stock Exchange. Based on a study of Anglo-American brewing issues on the London market between 1888 and 1892, in this article it is argued that such an interpretation cannot be sustained. For these issues, securing access to the London market proved more demanding than accounts of its liberalism would lead us to expect: in fact, Anglo-American brewing companies submitted to strictures from London that were more constraining than those of the New York market. Promoters accepted London’s constraints to take advantage of the high valuations assigned to Anglo-American brewing securities there, which reflected the city’s success in building demand based on financial machinery that did not exist in New York. That machinery included underwriting syndicates, accounting standards, and the London Stock Exchange’s listing rules, although, from this perspective, it was the rigour of the exchange’s rules that was important. Still, vetting securities for quotation was not the same as for investment, as the disappointing performance of the Anglo-American brewing securities soon revealed.

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