E Wall Street Is Wobbly

A part of global investing history ended yesterday in London. Debenham's, formerly Debenham's & Freebody, an Oxford Street department store, filed for liquidation after the COVID-19 virus stopped shoppers from hitting its HQ which already was out of fashion earlier. It had gone into administration back in August.

It was also by certain reckonings the first department store, founded in 1778 by William Clark who sold expensive clothing and fabrics aimed at women, from Wigmore Street. In 1813, William Debenham invested in Clark's store. Renamed Clark & Debenham, it offered not just women's goods, but also clothing and products for the rest of the family.

In the 1920s, J.P. Morgan, an American banker, watched US tourists head for their favorite emporium when they arrived in Britain on cruises. So Morgan's Bank (as it then was, now part of Chase) created a way for American investors to gain from Debenham's popularity. He created a way to buy its stock on Wall Street using an American Depositary Receipt. Debenham's was the first ADR.

It was considered the best place for Victorian-era mourners to buy black garments. The owners who liquidated the store were a group of banks that had lent to the failing store, under the name Celine Jersey Topco. We don't own any of the banks and funds which owned Debenham's, luckily.

More for paid subscribers follows on another short day. Wall Street is wobbly.


*Our bank shares were spared the Debenham's collapse and also the failure of Beijing to back a state sector company unable to pay its bond interest.

*Banco Santander, SAN, is up 4.5% to $3.19. It is not a lender to Debenham's or SOES from China.

*Bank of Nova Scotia BNS opened up 1.17% to $50.84 (US).

*Mitsubishi Finance is up 1.71% and Sumitomo Mitsui up 2.22%, SMFG and MSBHF.

*SPDR Gold, GLD, is up 0.7% after rising yesterday as well. Gold gained $14.80/oz today.

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