A global corporate census: publicly traded and close companies in 1910

Leslie Hannah
Published Online:
22 Aug 2014
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 68 Issue 2

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In 1910 the world had almost half a million corporations, only one‐hundredth of today's total. About one‐fifth—with over half of corporate capital—were publicly tradable, higher portions than today. Most publicly quoted corporations traded in Europe and the British Empire, but most close (private) corporations operated in the US, which, until the 1940s, had more corporations per capita than anywhere else. The 83 countries surveyed here differed markedly in company numbers, corporate capital/GDP ratios, and average corporate size. Enclave economies—dominated by quoted (and often foreign‐owned) companies—had the largest average sizes, while other nations had more varied mixes of large quoted corporations and close company small and medium enterprises.

© Economic History Society 2014

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