Palermo Merchandise Exchange: the locations and the historical events
The Palermo Merchandise Exchange was first instituted on 26 April 1842 and was inaugurated on 29 May 1845, although there is proof that brokers were appointed as early as 1840. After the unification of Italy, the new regulations on chambers of commerce and stock exchanges were issued in 1863 and 1866, respectively.
Although the Palermo Stock Exchange never officially ceased to operate, it seems that it existed little more than as a formality in the period between the two World Wars, until it was newly inaugurated in 1950 with the participation of Minister Giuseppe Pella. This period of inactivity is supported by the fact that the government appointments of the members of the Stock Exchange Deputation come in 1950, more than twenty years later than the other stock exchanges, and by the fact that no specialised publications on the Palermo marketplace appeared until 1953.
The definitive closure of the Palermo Stock Exchange took place at the same time the stock exchange reform law came into effect, although "open outcry" trading had long ceased in this marketplace where only one stockbroker was employed.
During the 19th century, the Palermo Merchandise Exchange, second in importance to Naples in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, had to compete with the other exchanges active on the island, including Catania, Agrigento and especially Messina, which played a significant role throughout the 1900s.
The number of brokers authorised to operate at the Palermo Exchange varied considerably over its 150 years of activity: the evidence points to two in 1844, twenty in 1876, five in 1914, one in 1926 and twelve in 1932. After the Second World War, the number of brokers was stabilised at two, dropping to one during the years immediately preceding the closure. An informational survey conducted by the Senate in 1976 revealed that the Palermo Stock Exchange handled 0.14% of all shares traded in Italy.
The importance of the Palermo marketplace in Italy's post-Second-World-War stock exchange system dwindled over the years and its activity focused increasingly on arbitrage with other marketplaces.
From the time of its inauguration in 1845 until 1950, the Palermo Exchange had its seat in the Palazzo delle Finanze, a state-owned building that also housed the government tax offices and, starting from the second half of the 19th century, the Palermo Chamber of Commerce as well.
Between 1950 and 1958, a few rooms on the first floor of a private building in Via Bari were rented for the use of the Stock Exchange and the seat was transferred to the Banca d'Italia in its Via Cavour building until 1963. In that year construction was completed on the new seat of the Chamber of Commerce and the Stock Exchange was settled in the mezzanine floor of the new building in the port area, where it remained until its closing.