The history of the stock market begins back in the 11th century in Cairo, Egypt. It is believed that during this period of time Jewish and Islamic merchants established a trade association that incorporated most of what we consider modern day credit and payment methods. By the 12th century agricultural debts were managed and regulated by French courratier de change. The courratier de change could technically be considered the first “stock brokers” because they not only managed debt and payments, but they also traded in debt products. Another century passed and the development of the modern stock market continued. At his point merchants and financiers in Venice added governmental securities to traded debts and investments. Many other major cities soon followed this example and began to trade in their own government securities. The first official stocks and bonds to be issued and traded were for the Dutch East India Company and they were traded on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange in 1602. Today there are several stock exchanges in just about every developed country. Each of these exchanges has its own listing of stocks and bonds that it trades, and each is subject to its own economic cycle. These cycles include periods of growth, staleness and recessions. The health of each stock market will depend on the health of local economies, national economies, and in some cases international economies. Before you select a stock market to use for your investment activities make sure that you understand the types of investments that it offers, and make sure that you understand the investment rules, policies and procedures for that stock market.