15 November 2006

The London Stock Exchange 1698-2006

LSE once towered over LondonTrust fund managers, brokers and merchant bankers across Britain momentarily turned their heads from their screens / clients / vast piles of money this morning, following the news of the death of the London Stock Exchange, which drowned in the Thames last night after dining with a group of well-connected Major Investment Banks.

The LSE was born in 1698 when one John Castaing, fired up by vast amounts of java, first pinned up a list of stock and commodity prices on the walls of Jonathan's Coffee House in London's Change Alley, with the aim of parting as many suckers as possible from their cash.

With its twin mottoes "My word is my bond" and "Your money is my money... and currently invested in an offshore intermediate revolving FOREX facility" the LSE was soon bestriding the financial world like the proverbial colossus, with those beneath it compelled to lift their gazes and contemplate the vast size and extreme goldenness of its twin fiscal spheres.

In the following years the LSE, red in tooth and braces, would become one of the world's most powerful financial forces, leading investors through South Sea Bubbles and Railway Mania to penury, while leading itself to vaster and vaster piles of money. By the early part of this century, those vast piles of money began to attract an increasing number of suitors. Gossip columnists noted that the ageing LSE was seen out with a different partner each night, showing its commodities off to Deutsche Boerse one evening, then flashing its sparkling derivatives at NASDAQ the next.

Such behaviour could not go unnoticed. Major Investment Banks which had long been associates of the LSE began to feel that their old friend, for whom they had done so much, was spending too much time gadding about and building up money piles and not enough showing them the respect they deserved. Attempts at reconciliation - including gifts of horses' heads - were made, the last of them occurring only on Tuesday night, when the Banks invited the LSE to dine with them. It appears that, clearly fearful of the current inclement weather, the LSE made the tragic mistake of wearing a concrete overcoat for its walk back from the restaurant along the Embankment, leading to inevitable tragedy when a pat on the back from several of its Bank pals caused it to fall into the river, where it drowned. The Banks made repeated attempts to rescue the LSE by dropping heavy metal chains on it and shooting it but all to no avail.

The London Stock Exchange will be buried at St Mammon's Church this weekend. Well-wishers are asked to send cash. The LSE is survived by the Major Investment Banks, their brand new European share market and vast piles of money.