Lame Ducks in the London Stock Exchange




Howard Marks Professor of Economic History

Project Summary

The project headed by Professor Marc Flandreau was centered around the role of lame ducks in the 18th century London stock exchange. Lame Ducks, those who defaulted on their loans, were cast out of the trading floor in rituals designed to prevent them from returning. The goal of this project was to research archives of British Newspapers from 1780-1810 for the phrase “lame ducks” and variants in order to find out both the occasions of default and associated details as well as more information on the rituals performed to exclude lame ducks. Every newspaper article that mentioned the phrase was downloaded and added to a database that Carlos and I then combed through to create a spreadsheet of the dates of default, number of defaulters, and other interesting details. Incidences that did not fit into the database but were still relevant were cited separately in a memo summarizing the research. This work involved a careful attention to detail, patience, and the ability to self-motivate. I learned about the different types of research that go into producing a finished product. I developed a sense of the expectations in academic work and how to communicate clearly with long-distance supervisors, as well as manage work with a peer in a fair and equitable way. I also learned about what I am interested in, and how different fields of study work together in a single study. As an English/Linguistics focused student, I am interested in how language is used. The development of the phrase throughout the late 18th century was a fascinating example of a shorthand that allowed traders or those in-the-know to keep updated about the market. It also provided a look into historical printing and journalism techniques, since the article would include information pertinent to the event that varied wildly.