The literature in financial history usually considers London as the only centre of the late 19 th century’s financial globalization, and explains it at least in part by the efficient organization of the London Stock Exchange (LSE). The LSE is characterized as having been a softly regulated market, where entry was easy both for traders and issuers [Michie (1998), Neal (2004), White (2006)]. The LSE microstructure is also considered as the natural and optimal one by much of the theoretical literature on stock markets, which argues that free entry decreases transaction costs and increases both liquidity and diversification, resulting in economies of scale and externalities attracting traders, issuers and investors. Our paper tries to explain why the Paris Bourse was able to be so successful in spite of the supposedly inefficient monopoly and regulations that the State imposed it. We focus on the fact that the Paris market actually included several different market organizations: the Parquet (the official Bourse, organized by the agents de change), the Coulisse, the Marché libre, and inter-bank direct operations. We argue that this multi-polar organization, was efficient, relying on the specialization it allowed, and the complementarities it helped develop among markets. We incorporate in the discussion the recent theoretical literature that shows that no single market can satisfy the heterogeneous preferences of all issuers and investors, so that a multi-polar organization can be a superior solution
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