Author: ARDELEANU KONSTANTIN
The Wallachian Commercial Code, a reproduction of the Napoleon’s Commercial Code, was in use in both Romanian Principalities during the 1840s. There were several intentions to establish a local exchange room, such as that of Ioan Englezi, who required in 1853 the permission to establish a stock market. There was an unofficial borsa (stock market) in a local shop, where merchants negotiated prices and learnt commercial news from all over Europe.
The beginnings of the local exchange room as an official institution are related to the creation of the Chambers of Commerce in Romania by a law issued in 1864. The Chamber of Commerce in Galaţi was established for the counties of Covurlui, Tutova and Fălciu with the aim to encourage the development of local trade and industry. The institution was responsible with keeping records of commercial companies, organising fairs and stockyards, settling revenue taxes, taking part at the conclusion of all collective work contracts, drafting economic statistics, etc. By the end of the 19th century, the Chamber of Commerce of Galaţi had 82 members, and was led by an elected chairman, a vice-chairman and a secretary.
In July 1881, the Parliament passed the Law on Stock Markets, Exchange Mediators and Goods Mediators in view of facilitating commercial transactions. The stock market was defined as “the assembly of merchants, ship captains, exchange middlemen, goods and products mediators”. The main operations to be carried out through the stock market were: the fair of public and private effects, the fair of the stocks of various agricultural, industrial and commercial societies, the fair of land registers, rural and urban and of all negotiable papers, selling of metallic products, coins and all types of goods, rental of ships, land and water transportation services, trades related to continental and maritime commerce, domestic and foreign, all kinds of insurance policies. The stock market was put under the jurisdiction of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and was managed by a board committee made up of a syndic and four members. They had to be elected by the exchange mediators and by tax payers, whilst one of them was appointed by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Chamber’s secretary fulfilled the same position for the stock market committee. The statute of the stock markets was enacted by the Parliament in December 1881, regulating their operation, fixing the stock exchange rates and the fees, “the time–limit fair”, the rights and obligations of the exchange mediators, etc.
The stock market was directed by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which also collected its special revenues. The merchants, the agricultural farmers who owned 500 hectares and the vine growers could also participate in the corporation of the stock market. The corporation organised general assemblies at least once a year. The assemblies were called out by the Minister of Commerce and Industry. Their management was the responsibility of a committee elected for a four year term, consisting of a representative of the minister, a representative of the Public Finances, a representative of the Chamber of Commerce, and a representative of the National Bank, two or more representatives appointed by the corporation, a representative of the farmers (if more than 30), the stock market syndic.
The stock market was managed by a syndic, who was one of the tenured mediators. For solving the issues beyond his competences, there was also a stock market committee made up of the syndic – as chairman, a representative of the National Bank and a representative of the Chamber of Commerce. There were four acknowledged mediators at Galaţi, but at least 20 more persons operated illicitly. Although the Chamber of Commerce reduced the number of mediators to five and the number of exchange mediators to two, these latter positions remained open, just like the fifth position for goods mediator, because there were few exchange operations in Galaţi done through this institution.
In the circumscription of the Chamber of Commerce of Galaţi, since the enactment of the Companies Law until the end of the year 1887 there were 4,013 commercial companies recorded at the tribunal, out of which 3,779 individual and 234 social companies. 1,878 of them (1,715 individual and 163 social) were from Covurlui County. In October 1889 there were 2,078 companies (1,881 individual and 197 social ones). In a statistics presented to the Chamber by the stock market syndic, during the period 1883–1887 the good traded on Galaţi stock market amounted to 61,881,931.6 lei, a sum distributed as follows: for grain – 9,477,536.05 lei; corn – 27,070,048.05 lei; rye – 15,878,035.13 lei; barley – 8,600,193.37 lei; oats, rape, bird seed, beans and hemp seed – smaller amounts. Adding the 25 percent operations outside the stock market, there results a total of 80 million lei or almost 16 million lei a year as stock market operations.
However, the stock markets had few actual outcomes, so that the law was soon to be amended. The new Stock Market Law, enacted in 1904, organised the stock market corporation made up of all merchants, industrialists, loans societies and associations, tax payers of 1st, 2nd and 3rd ranks, all the commercial companies recorded at the tribunal, thus annulling the monopoly of mediators and giving trade complete freedom. During the next decade its activity increased, although it was far from being comparable with similar institutions in Western Europe. The presidents of Galaţi stock market were important figures of the local economic life: N. N. Madgearu, Ion Colţofeanu, G. Fernic, A. Dall’Orso, etc..
Picture 4.1.4_1 The Bourse of Galaţi (about 1903)
 Paul Păltănea, Istoria oraşului Galaţi de la origini până la 1918, second edition, edited by Eugen Drăgoi (Galaţi: Editura Partener, 2008), vol. II, 41.
 Moise N. Pacu, Cartea judeţului Covurluiu. Note geografice, istorice şi în deosebi statistice, (Bucharest: Stabilimentul Grafic I. V. Socecu, 1891), 267–268.
 Regulamentul interior de funcţionare a Bursei de Mărfuri şi cereale din Galaţi (Galaţi: Tipografia Energia, 1934).
 Pacu, Cartea, 268–269.
 George Munteanu, Galaţi, part II, 1900–1938, Oameni în presă, literatură, comerţ, etc. (Galaţi: Tipografia Eminescu, 1938], 64. The exchange also had a new building – Constantin Iotzu, Construcţia Palatului Bursei şi al Camerei de Comerţ şi Industrie Galaţi. Devizul estimativ (Galaţi: Tipografia “Buciumul Român”, 1914).
Iotzu, Constantin, Construcţia palatului Bursei şi al Camerei de comerţ şi industrie Galaţi. Devizul estimativ [The Construction of the Palace of the Bourse and of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Galaţi. Estimated Expenses] (Galaţi: Tipografia Buciumul Român, 1914).
Munteanu, George, Galaţi, part II, 1900–1938, Oameni în presă, literatură, comerţ, etc. [Galaţi, 1900–1938. Personalities in the Press, Literature, Trade etc.] (Galaţi: Tipografia Eminescu, s.a.].
Pacu, Moise N., Cartea Judeţului Covurlui. Note geografice, istorice şi în deosebi statistice [The Book of Covurlui County. Geographical, Historical and Mainly Statistical Notes] (Bucharest: Stabilimentul Grafic I. V. Socecu, 1891).
Păltănea, Paul, Istoria oraşului Galaţi de la origini până la 1918 [The History of Galaţi from Its Beginnings to 1918], second edition, edited by Eugen Drăgoi (Galaţi: Editura Partener, 2008).
Regulament interior de funcţionare a Bursei de mărfuri şi cereale din Galaţi [The Interior Regulation of the Exchange Room for Goods and Grain from Galaţi] (Galaţi, Tipografia Energia, s.a.).
Şaraga, Achille, Istoricul burselor şi valorificarea acţiunilor româneşti [The History of Exchange Rooms and the Valorification of the Romanian Shares] (Bucharest: Cultura Naţionala, s.a.).
Statuts reglement interior et composition du conseil de la chamber de commerce de Galatz, pour l’annee 1887 (Galatz, Imprimerie A. Friedmann, 1887).