George Frideric Handel, stock-market savant

Posted on: May 27, 2016

In Monday’s (5/23) Telegraph (U.K.), Richard Evans writes about George Frideric Handel’s part-time career as a “successful investor…. We know a great deal about Handel’s approach because detailed records survive of his dealings with his bank and the custodian of his financial assets … the Bank of England…. The shares he chose to buy in the early days were in the notorious South Sea Company, which ruined many investors, including Sir Isaac Newton. The German-born composer, however, was luckier and appears to have liquidated his holding in the enterprise by 1719—just a year before the share price suffered its notorious, spectacular collapse…. The bursting of the bubble in South Sea shares in 1720 led to a public outcry and pressure from the government for investors to be compensated. This involved, among other things, the conversion of half of South Sea’s shares into bonds…. Handel was therefore getting a decent return of 5pc on what had become a very safe investment…. The Bank’s records show that he bought £150 worth on the day after the bonds’ creation…. £1 in 1723 was worth about £140 today [which] would make Handel’s £150 purchase worth about £21,000 in today’s money…. From 1743 until his death in 1759, his portfolio only increased in size.”

Posted May 27, 2016