Perspectives on economics and finances with GFD

Featured Articles

Global Financial Data Introduces the US-100 Index

Global Financial Data has calculated a 100-share index that is more comprehensive than existing long-term indices of the United States stock market.  GFD has collected historical data on U.S. shares from 1791 until 2017 and is using this database to calculate a more representative index of U.S. shares than is currently available. The GFD-100 Index is superior to existing indices for three reasons.  First, the index is capitalization weighted from its beginning in 1791 until 2019.  Second, the selection of stocks is based upon all shares that were traded on U.S. exchanges and over-the-counter. The selection of shares is not limited to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), but includes shares from regional exchanges and over-the-counter markets. Third, the index includes finance stocks throughout its history.  Finance shares were excluded from the S&P 500 Composite until July 1, 1976 when the composition of the S&P 500 was changed from 425 Industrials, 60 Utilities and 15 Rail shares (adopted in March 1957) to 400 Industrials, 40 Utilities, 20 Transportation and 40 Finance stocks. Few people realize that bank and insurance stocks were excluded from any major United States stock index until 1976.  Although bank and finance stocks mostly traded over-the-counter before the 1970s, finance stocks represented between 10% and 20% of the overall capitalization of the stock market before 1976. Bank and insurance companies were excluded because consistent price quotes were not available and finance stocks were not as liquid as the shares traded on exchanges. The exclusion of over-the-counter shares was not limited to banks and insurance companies. Standard Oil and its subsidiaries also traded over-the-counter and were excluded from stock market indices until they moved onto the New York Stock Exchange. Nevertheless, people did invest in bank and insurance stocks, and in the Standard Oil companies, and their exclusion creates biases in the historical calculations of stock market indices. Existing calculations of long-term stock market returns in the United States are based upon four primary sources: Smith and Cole (1803-1862), Macaulay (1857-1871) Cowles (1871-1928) and Standard and Poor’s (1928-2017). Unfortunately, these indices have major flaws in them that create biases that researchers have tolerated until now because no one has ever collected historical data on U.S. share prices, corporate actions (dividends and splits) and shares outstanding so accurate price and return indices could be calculated. The current S&P Composite includes data from the Cowles Indices from 1871 until 1927, the 90-share daily S&P Index from January 1928 until February 1957, the 500-share composite that excludes finance stocks until July 1976 and the all-sector 500-share index since July 1, 1976. Global Financial Data has collected data on all major United States exchanges going back to 1791 as well as data on over-the-counter shares since 1865.  The data includes not only share price data, but information on corporate actions (dividends and splits) as well as shares outstanding.  These data sources enable us to calculate cap-weighted price and return indices for the United States that accurately reflect what an investment in the 100 largest stocks each year would have produced for investors. GFD set up criteria for determining which stocks are included or excluded from its indices.  GFD has followed these rules for inclusion: 1) there had to be at least 9 observations per year, 2) Dividend data have to be available for each stock in order that both price and return indices can be calculated, and 3)  There had to be share outstanding information available so the stock could be included in a capitalization-weighted index. The index includes all shares that met these criteria from 1791 to 1824, the top 50 shares by capitalization are used from 1825 to 1850 and the top 100 shares by capitalization from 1851 to 2017. To choose which companies to include, shares were weighted by capitalization during the first month of each year and included if they were among the 100 largest shares in the United States. It was assumed that the stocks were held for the rest of the year, and in January of the next year, the same selection methodology was used to choose which shares to hold for the coming year.  Each year, the list of the 100 largest companies was recalculated and a new list of stocks was introduced.  For continuity purposes, if a stock missed a year, i.e. the stock was in the top 100 in 1914 and 1916, but not in 1915, the stock was included in the index in 1915 even though this put over 100 stocks in the index.

A decade-by-decade comparison of the return to stocks in the GFD-100, bonds in GFD’s U.S. Bond Index, bills in GFD’s US Bill Index and the equity-risk premium is provided below.
Decade Stock Price Stock Return Dividends Bonds Cash Equity Premium
1792-1799 -3.7 2.67 6.61 -0.15 5.75 -2.91
1800-1809 1.35 8.01 6.57 6.03 4.96 2.91
1810-1819 -4.35 1.59 6.21 7.42 4.99 -3.24
1820-1829 0.53 5.82 5.26 5.01 3.66 2.08
1830-1839 -0.95 5 6.01 0.44 4.51 0.47
1840-1849 -0.8 6.12 6.98 6.97 4.94 1.12
1850-1859 -0.58 6.65 7.27 4.67 5.01 1.56
1860-1869 4.62 12.45 7.48 9.28 4.97 7.13
1870-1879 2.04 8.97 6.79 5.52 3.82 4.96
1880-1889 1.19 6.27 5.02 4.16 3.01 7.98
1890-1899 4.05 9.45 5.19 4.57 2.13 2.81
1900-1909 6.25 11.23 4.69 0.76 3.01 7.98
1910-1919 -0.69 5.5 6.23 2.22 2.62 2.81
1920-1929 8.72 14.44 5.26 5.53 3.5 10.57
1930-1939 -3.48 0.5 4.12 6.32 0.27 0.23
1940-1949 3.43 8.21 4.62 2.25 0.58 7.59
1950-1959 13.67 18.3 4.07 0.70 2.16 15.80
1960-1969 3.82 6.83 2.90 1.28 4.4 2.33
1970-1979 2.14 6.12 3.90 4.09 6.71 -0.55
1980-1989 12.94 18.14 4.60 15.54 7.96 9.43
1990-1999 19.78 22.65 2.40 7.20 4.52 17.35
2000-2009 -1.66 0.16 1.85 5.42 2.25 -2.04
2010-2017 7.67 10.06 2.22 3.67 0.21 9.83
Average 3.30 8.48 5.06 4.73 3.74 4.60
  Although the overall returns between 1870 and 2017 do not differ significantly between the GFD-100 and Cowles/S&P Composite, there are several advantages in using the GFD-100 as the benchmark for long-term historical data for the United States stock market rather than the Cowles/S&P Composite. 1.     The GFD-100 uses shares that traded on all United States exchanges and over-the-counter from 1791 until 2017. The Cowles/S&P Composite is limited to the New York Stock Exchange before 1972.  Finance companies that traded OTC and companies such as Standard Oil which traded OTC for several decades before moving to the NYSE are included in the GFD-100, but excluded from Cowles/S&P. 2.    The GFD-100 uses shares from all sectors, including finance, from 1791 until 2019.  The Cowles/S&P Composite only includes finance shares beginning in 1976 and ignores the finance sector before 1976. 3.    The GFD-100 includes accurate data on dividends from 1791 to 2019.  The Cowles/S&P Composite only calculated dividends from 1871 until 2017.  There is no inclusion of dividends before 1871 in the Cowles/S&P Composite because no data on dividends were collected. Consequently, existing indices are missing 80 years of dividend data. 4.    The GFD-100 is capitalization weighted from 1791 until 2019.  The Cowles/S&P is cap-weighted from 1871 until 2019 and includes no capitalization weighting before 1871. 5.    The Smith and Cole bank indices that cover the period from 1802 until 1845 suffer from survivorship bias.  Banks were chosen for the indices based upon their longevity, not on their size or liquidity. The GFD-100 components are chosen based upon their market capitalization.  The largest companies are chosen during each January and are “held” in the portfolio for the rest of the year when a new portfolio is organized for the coming year. 6.    The Smith and Cole indices are based upon a very limited population of six to eighteen companies per year from 1802 until 1862.  The GFD-100 includes 50 companies from 1825 until 1850 and 100 companies from 1851 using a broader population of shares. 7.    The GFD-100 uses a consistent methodology from 1791 until 2019.  The Cole and Smith/Macaulay/Cowles/S&P Index use different methodologies.  The data that are used to put together the composite are collected from four different sources and chain-linked together in an uncertain pattern.  During the periods of time when different indices exist, choosing different indices generates different rates of return. Overall, the GFD-100 provides a superior benchmark stock index.  Because of its greater accuracy, we would encourage financial historians to use the GFD-100 for their analysis of long-term trends in the stock market in the United States.

How Many Stocks are in the Wilshire 5000?

The Wilshire 5000 is the broadest index in the United States covering every stock that is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ and the NYSE AMEX.  When the Index was launched back in 1974, the index included about 5000 stocks, hence the name.  The Wilshire 5000 was never limited to 5000 stocks, but includes every stock listed on the three exchanges regardless of the total number of companies. Wilshire also created the Wilshire 4500, which includes all of the stocks that are listed on the three U.S. exchanges excluding the stocks in the S&P 500 as well as the Wilshire 2500, which includes the 2500 largest companies.   Wilshire’s Large Cap Index includes the top 750 stocks by capitalization while the Small Cap Index includes the 1750 stocks after the first 750. The Micro-Cap Index includes all stocks included in the Wilshire 5000 that are not included in the Wilshire 2500.  

Growth in the Wilshire 5000

As the stock market boomed in the 1990s, the Wilshire 5000 grew in size and reached its maximum membership on July 31, 1998 when 7,562 companies were included in the index.  Thence, membership has shrunk, declining back to 5000 on December 29, 2005. Since then, the Wilshire 5000 has included less than 5000 companies. The Wilshire 5000 Full Cap Index calculates the value of all of the shares listed in the United States in billions of dollars.  The index was at 28,552.5 on February 15, 2019 meaning that the value of all the common stocks listed in the United States was $28,552.5 billion. The index reached $30 trillion in September 2018 before the current sell off.  The index has data going back to December 1970 when the total capitalization of the US Stock market was $830 billion, though this sank to a low of $550 billion in September 1974. GFD has used its own calculations of all the stocks listed in the United States to extend the Wilshire 5000 back to 1792. So to answer the question, how many stocks are in the Wilshire 5000? On June 30, 2018, there were 3,486 companies.  This means that the number of companies that are included in the Wilshire 5000 has shrunk by 54% Since July 1998.  Figure 1 illustrates the performance of the Wilshire 5000 since 1970.  The index showed strong growth between 1975 and 1999, but slower growth since then.


Large Caps vs. Small Caps

It is also instructive to compare the performance of the S&P 500 Total Return Index with the Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index, since both are total return indices.  This comparison provides us with the best comparison of the performance of large cap and small cap stocks that is available. If the S&P 500 stocks (large caps) outperform the rest of the market, then the relative index rises, if the rest of the stocks (small caps) outperform, it falls.  As Figure 2. Illustrates, the S&P 500 peaked relative to the rest of the market in 1975, declined until 1983, then began a stead rise relative to the rest of the market until 2001.  Between 2001 and 2014, small caps outperformed the S&P 500, but during the past 5 years, the S&P 500 has been gaining strength relative to the rest of the market.


The Wilshire/Russell 3000?

The number of stocks that are listed in the United States continues to decline. Because of the regulatory cost of listing on public exchanges, and the willingness of venture capitalists to invest in private companies, fewer and fewer companies are going public, and the number of publicly-traded companies is declining.  The Russell 3000 may soon face the fate of the Wilshire 5000, being forced to include fewer companies than its name suggests.  At some point in the near future, there may be fewer than 3000 companies listed in the United States and at that point, the Wilshire 5000 and the Russell 3000 will include the same number of companies.  When that happens, we will let you know.

GFD’s London Emerging Market Indices

Global Financial Data has put together a unique collection of alternative data indices that chart the performance of stocks in dozens of different countries around the world.  The first company for which Global Financial Data has data, the Dutch East India Co., was founded so the Dutch could develop resources in Indonesia and the rest of Asia.  This company was followed by the Dutch West India Co., the English East India Company, the French East India Co., the Hudson Bay Co. and dozens of others.  Throughout the 1600s and 1700s, developing the resources of emerging markets was the main reason many of these companies existed. During the 1800s, however, European countries established corporations that had the right to build railroads, establish banks, mine, and purchase and develop land.  Each country established companies to develop resources in their colonies, Britain in India and Australia, the Netherlands in Indonesia (Netherlands Indies), France in French Indochina and French West Africa, Belgium in the Congo, and so forth. Today, if you want to invest in Emerging Markets, you can either buy an ETF that specializes in a particular country or region, or you can purchase ADRs that provide you ownership in that company. In the 1800s, there were no ETFs that allowed you to invest in different colonies or regions, but you could buy shares in companies that invested in emerging markets.  These shares were liquid and readily available on the London Stock Exchange. There were numerous bubbles that attracted British and other investors to emerging markets before World War I.  The first occurred in 1825 when Latin American companies caught the eyes of investors.  French railroads raised money in London in the 1840s, Australian mining stocks exploded in 1852, American railroads attracted investors in the 1870s and 1880s and in the 1890s, South African gold mining companies traded on the London, Paris and Berlin stock exchanges.  The Suez Canal was one of the largest companies that listed in Paris and the Panama Railroad was a prime subject of speculation in the 1850s as gold diggers made their way from the east coast of America to California. The London Stock Exchange is so rich in its history that you might feel like an archaeological explorer who has discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb once you start investigating the data.  In most of the countries, shares listed in London before stock exchanges established in those countries.  Since the gold standard fixed exchange rates between European countries after 1870, shares of American railroads or South African mining companies traded simultaneously in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels and Vienna.  Until 1914, buying and selling government bonds or the bonds of American railroads was one of the principal ways that money moved between countries to arbitrage exchange rates between European countries. The coverage varies tremendously between different countries.  Some countries, such as Costa Rica or Ethiopia, may only have one company that traded in London, but other countries, such as Australia, Malaysia, South Africa or the United States might have over 100 companies that traded in London between 1825 and 1985.  Global Financial Data has collected the price of shares, the number of shares outstanding and corporate actions so market cap-weighted price and total return indices can be calculated for each country. The data allows us to calculate indices not only by country, but by region.  We can compare the performance of developed and emerging markets as well as by sector. Were emerging markets good investments in the 1800s or poor investments?  Did the returns to emerging markets exceed returns to British or American companies?  Did people in emerging markets benefit from the railroads, banks, mining and other companies that were developed, or as Marx or Gandhi would have it, did these companies channel all their profits back to European investors and leave nothing for the colonies? Over 2300 companies that listed in the United Kingdom and the United States are included in GFD’s London Stock Exchange indices.  Certainly, no one who wants to understand the performance of the stock market in the past or of emerging markets in general should ignore this data.  The results can be compared directly with the returns to the United States and United Kingdom using the GFD US-100 and GFD UK-100 indices. The data from London and New York are daily in their periodicity so the exact timing of bull and bear markets can be studied in detail. Once you have analyzed the indices that have been calculated for each country or sector, you can analyze the performance of the underlying companies that make up the indices to discover the sources of changes in the data.  The GFD Indices provide a rich resource of alternative data that is available from no other source and can be a rich resource for finding sources of alpha for investors. To help potential users understand the richness of this data set, Table 1 provides information on the indices that have been calculated for each country.  The table details when the index for each country begins and when it ends.  It tells the number of companies that are included in the indices as well as the maximum market cap of the companies that were listed in London. If you currently do not subscribe to the GFD Indices, you are missing out on a rich opportunity to analyze the past and possibly obtain a better understanding of the performance of emerging markets in the future. Table 1.  GFD Indices of Companies Listed in London and New York, 1825 to 1985
Country Begins Ends Companies Max Market Cap Year
Argentina 1865 1985 69 749.0 1929
Australia 1825 1985 201 12,550.0 1981
Austria 1856 1932 6 27.0 1906
Belgium 1845 1985 8 21.0 1875
Bolivia 1825 1985 8 100.0 1929
Brazil 1825 1984 60 2,563.0 1984
Canada 1825 1985 100 19,278.0 1976
Chile 1852 1969 46 815.0 1929
China 1882 1930 7 38.0 1925
Colombia 1825 1962 21 33.0 1920
Costa Rica 1886 1932 1 1.3 1890
Cuba 1838 1961 23 135.0 1926
Denmark 1853 1984 4 40.0 1937
Ecuador 1924 1975 1 2.3 1944
Egypt 1856 1969 23 918.0 1929
El Salvador 1887 1985 4 5.4 1978
Ethiopia 1908 1924 1 0.2 1920
France 1801 1985 53 881.0 1890
Germany 1835 1985 17 7,647.0 1985
Ghana 1869 1985 21 175.0 1936
Greece 1839 1930 3 15.0 1911
Guatemala 1923 1963 2 10.0 1956
Guyana 1845 1921 1 0.1 1895
Hong Kong 1865 1985 6 272.0 1969
India 1792 1985 156 530.0 1865
Indonesia 1891 1981 40 157.0 1980
Ireland 1792 1985 87 402.0 1877
Italy 1848 1985 19 78.0 1927
Jamaica 1907 1985 6 3.0 1967
Japan 1907 1985 44 68.0 1913
Kenya 1907 1970 7 31.0 1966
Malaysia 1889 1985 212 3,373.0 1981
Mauritius 1854 1915 5 2.0 1878
Mexico 1824 1985 61 2,112.0 1989
Mozambique 1895 1975 2 3.5 1928
Myanmar 1890 1977 6 95.0 1937
Netherlands 1845 1985 25 19,106.0 1985
New Zealand 1862 1980 32 219.0 1974
Nicaragua 1863 1891 2 3.3 1864
Nigeria 1887 1976 34 53.0 1965
Paraguay 1889 1965 3 10.0 1965
Peru 1825 1975 13 317.0 1968
Philippines 1889 1985 10 954.0 1980
Portugal 1855 1981 8 13.0 1922
Romania 1870 1940 3 10.0 1914
Russia 1865 1932 22 80.0 1917
Singapore 1895 1977 5 6.0 1969
South Africa 1833 1985 379 54,785.0 1980
Spain 1845 1985 21 90.0 1913
Sri Lanka 1842 1984 57 151.0 1927
Sweden 1853 1985 21 334.0 1929
Switzerland 1872 1930 1 0.5 1928
Thailand 1919 1970 2 11.5 1964
Trinidad 1865 1985 8 741.0 1980
Turkey 1856 1930 11 38.0 1929
United States 1821 1985 198 4,584.0 1926
Uruguay 1873 1971 10 30.0 1928
Venezuela 1852 1971 15 305.0 1948
Zimbabwe 1893 1985 43 108.0 1985

Events in Time Anniversaries: February 2019


25 years ago: February 1994

S&P 500: 467.14 (vs. 2731.61 in 02/2019) 10-year U.S. Government Bond Yield: 6.15% (vs. 2.70% in 02/2019) Gold: $381.55 (vs. $1312.40 in 02/2019) Oil: $14.50 (vs. $53.94 in 02/2019) GBP/USD: 1.485 (vs. 1.2932 in 02/2019) US GDP: 7,013 billion (vs. 20,658 billion in 09/2018) US Population: 260 million (vs. 328 million in 2019) 02/03/1994: The Mexican Peso crisis begins. 02/05/1994: Byron De La Beckwith is convicted of the 1963 murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers. 02/06/1994: The Fed's decision to raise short-term interest rates for the first time in nearly five years pushes the Dow Jones Industrials more than 96 points lower. 02/12/1994: Four men break into the National Gallery of Norway and steal Edvard Munch's iconic painting The Scream.  

50 years ago: January 1969

S&P 500: 98.13 (vs. 2731.61 in 02/2019) 10-year U.S. Government Bond Yield: 6.26% (vs. 2.70% in 02/2019) Gold: $42.70 (vs. $1312.40 in 02/2019) Oil: $3.06 (vs. $53.94 in 02/2019) GBP/USD: 2.3918 (vs. 1.2932 in 02/2019) US GDP: 968 billion (vs. 20,658 billion in 09/2018) US Population: 205 million (vs. 328 million in 2019) 02/10/1969: Heavy snow forced closings of NYSE and ASE, the first such weekday closing by Big Board in this century. Only other all-day closing was Saturday in January, 1948, due also to snow. 02/12/1969: Pittsburgh Stock Exchange members voted merger with Philadelphia-Baltimore-Washing Stock Exchange. 02/26/1969: Federal Reserve restated determination to tighten credit to cool economy.  

100 years ago: February 1919

S&P 500: 8.0471 (vs. 2731.61 in 02/2019) 10-year U.S. Government Bond Yield: 4.70% (vs. 2.70% in 02/2019) Gold: $20.67 (vs. $1312.40 in 02/2019) Oil: $4 (vs. $53.94 in 02/2019) GBP/USD: 4.7575 (vs. 1.2932 in 02/2019) US GDP: 84 billion (vs. 20,658 billion in 09/2018) US Population: 104 million (vs. 328 million in 2019) 02/05/1919: Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith launch United Artists. 02/06/1919: General Strike at Seattle. Many strikes and much labor unrest. 02/14/1919: Polish Soviet War: The Polish army attacked Soviet forces occupying the town of Biaroza. 02/21/1919: German socialist Kurt Eisner is assassinated. His death results in the establishment of the Bavarian Soviet Republic and parliament and government fleeing Munich, Germany. 02/25/1919: Oregon places a one cent per U.S. gallon tax on gasoline, becoming the first U.S. state to levy a gasoline tax.  

200 years ago: February 1819

GFD US-100/S&P 500: 0.5752 (vs. 2731.61 in 02/2019) 10-year U.S. Government Bond Yield: 4.65% (vs. 2.70% in 02/2019) Gold: $19.39 (vs. $1312.40 in 02/2019) GBP/USD: 4.384 (vs. 1.2932 in 02/2019) US GDP: 726.677 million (vs. 20,658 billion in 12/2018) US Population: 9.379 million (vs. 328 million in 01/2019) 02/15/1819: Simon Bolivar Palacious became President of Colombia 02/17/1819: The United States House of Representatives passes the Missouri Compromise for the first time. 02/22/1819: Treaty concluded with Spain, ceding Florida to the United States.  

300 years ago: February 1719

UK Government Bond Yield: 4.10% (vs. 1.34% in 01/2019) UK GDP: £80 million (vs. £535 billion in 12/2018) UK Population: 6 million (vs. 66 million in 01/2019) 01/03/1719: Compagnie des Indes shares hit 475 Francs and will rise to 10,000 Francs on November 21, 1719 during the Mississippi Bubble. © 2019 Global Financial Data. Please feel free to redistribute this Events-in-Time Chronology and credit Global Financial Data as the source.

REQUEST A DEMO with a GFDFinaeon Specialist

Please type your first name.
Please type your last name.
Please type your phone number in the following format 123-456-7890
Invalid email address.
Please type your company name.
Invalid Input


Our comprehensive financial databases span global markets offering data never compiled into an electronic format. We create and generate our own proprietary data series while we continue to investigate new sources and extend existing series whenever possible. GFD supports full data transparency to enable our users to verify financial data points, tracing them back to the original source documents. GFD is the original supplier of complete historical data.