It would be hard to tell a story about America's stockmarket without mention of at least one company that listed this century—Google or Facebook, say.
Europe is rather different. Its bourses are heavy with giants from the age of industry but light on the digital champions of tomorrow.
It is telling, perhaps, that its character can be captured in the contrasting fortunes of two companies, Nestlé and Daimler,
with roots not even in the 20th century, but in the 19th.
Nestlé began in 1867 when Henri Nestlé, a German pharmacist, developed a powdered milk for babies.
The firm, based in Switzerland, is now the world's largest food company.
It owns a broad stable of well-known brands, including Nescafé and KitKat.
Its coffee, cereals and stock cubes are sold everywhere, from air-conditioned supermarkets in rich countries to sun-scorched stalls in poor ones.
Daimler was founded a bit later, in 1890. Its Mercedes-Benz brand of saloon cars and SUVS
is favoured by the rich world's professionals and the developing world's politicians.
Though the two companies have lots in common, their stockmarket fortunes could scarcely be more different.
Nestlé is the sort of "quality" stock that is increasingly prized in Europe for its steadiness.
It is expensive: its price-to-earnings, or PE, ratio is 29. In contrast Daimler is a "value" stock, with a PE of eight.
The disparity has steadily grown in recent years. Indeed the gap between the dearest stocks and the cheapest across the continent
is at its widest in almost two decades, says Graham Secker of Morgan Stanley.
The valuation gap in Europe is related to a similar divide in America. For much of stockmarket history,
buying value stocks—with a low price relative to earnings or to the book value of tangible assets,
such as equipment and buildings—has been a winning strategy for stockpickers.
But the past decade has been miserable for value stocks in America.
The rapid rise of a handful of tech firms—the Googles and Facebooks—and other "growth" stocks has left them in the shade.
Value stocks are, by definition, cheap. In the past they might have been cyclical stocks,
those that do well when the world economy is picking up steam, but which suffer in downturns.
These days the cheap stocks are in industries, such as carmaking and branch-based banking, that are ripe for disruption.
But in Europe, they are especially cheap.