Perspectives on economics and finances with GFD



Global Financial Data now offers historical price data on common stocks for all stock exchanges in the United States since 1915. No other company provides such a comprehensive record of US Stocks encompassing regional exchanges such as the Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia or Los Angeles.


Inherent problems occur within traditional equity data feeds due to the existence of an exchange bias and the survivorship bias. Only GFD has researched, compiled, generated and produced complete, unabridged individual data sets on U.S. Stock Markets. Coverage includes the
  • New York Stock Exchange
  • Curb/American Stock Exchange
  • Regional Stock Exchanges, and


Until the 1970s, the American Stock Exchange, called the New York Curb until 1953, listed more foreign issues than all other US stock exchanges combined. Furthermore, many oil and mining stocks, many small-cap companies, many technology companies, and many other types of companies that did not qualify for listing on the New York Stock Exchange listed on the Curb/AMEX. None of the stocks which were listed on the Curb/AMEX were concurrently listed on the NYSE. In 1972, when the NASDAQ was founded, over 1300 companies, whose total capitalization was half that of the NYSE, were listed on the AMEX. Data for the Curb/AMEX is monthly from 1915 until 1961, and daily since January 1962. Excluding the market data covering the Curb/AMEX no longer provides adequate coverage of the U.S. market. To see GFD’s U.S. Stocks in action, call today to speak to one of our experts at 877-DATA-999 or 949-542-4200.


The American Stock Exchange was originally called the New York Curb since it traded stocks that were not listed on the New York Stock Exchange outside of the building that housed the NYSE. The New York Curb was established in 1908, moved indoors in 1921, changed its name to the New York Curb Exchange in 1929 and to the American Stock Exchange in 1953. The AMEX merged with the New York Stock Exchange in 2008.

The End of the Gold Standard

It was 100 years ago, in 1914, that the Gold Standard died. When World War I began, most countries went off the Gold Standard and attempts to return to a Gold Standard since have all failed. Some people have called for a return to the Gold Standard as a way of disciplining governments and ensuring that they do not inflate their way out of their current fiscal problems. If it were only that easy. What many people don’t understand is that in the long run, the International Gold Standard was a very brief phenomenon, and the fact that the world moved to a Gold Standard in the late 1800s was a sign of weakness in the role of gold and silver in the economy, not of strength. The reality was that Europe was on a bimetallic standard, not a Gold Standard, from the Middle Ages until World War I, and gold triumphed in the nineteenth century because bimetallism had failed. This should have been taken as a sign that the gold standard too would inevitably fail, not that it was the result of teleological inevitability.
The first gold and silver coins were issued by Croesus in Lydia around 600 BC. Before that, both gold and silver were used as a store of for wealth, for conspicuous consumption, or to value other goods, but no coins existed. The value of gold relative to silver, the gold/silver ratio, changed over time. In 2700 BC it was around 9 to 1; under Hammurabi in 1800 BC it was 6 to 1; and by the time Croesus issued the first gold and silver coins, rather than electrum coins, it was 12 to 1. The gold/silver ratio remained around 12 to 1 for the next 2500 years, though it could range as low as 9 to 1 or as high as 16 to 1. Athens built its empire on the silver mines of Laurium; Alexander the Great plundered the treasuries of the Persians; and the Romans seized this stolen bullion when they conquered the Mediterranean. Constantine took the gold of the Pagan temples for his needs, and whoever controlled Egypt could rely upon the mines in Nubia as a source of gold. When the Arabs spread Islam through the world, they seized the gold and silver of the lands they conquered. When they gained control over northern Africa, the Arabs also gained power over the gold coming from sub-Saharan Africa. Europeans minted a few coins during their Dark Ages, but mainly they relied upon Arab gold coins. It wasn’t until the Europeans sacked Constantinople during the Crusades, taking its gold, and the Venetian cities developed trade surpluses with the Arabs that Europe found a need to mint gold on a regular basis, starting in 1252. The chart below shows the gold/silver ratio over the past 750 years. In the thirteenth century, the gold to silver ratio was around 10 to 1. It was the scarcity of gold in the fifteenth century that drove the Portuguese to go south and east to seek gold and silver, and the Spaniards to go west, discovering the Americas instead of reaching China.
The discovery of America released not only the gold of the Americas which the Spaniards seized, but the silver of Potosí and Mexico which supplemented the silver mines of Germany that produced silver Thalers. Galleons filled with silver crossed the seas to Europe and China every year, causing global inflation in the seventeenth century. The chart, which uses the gold/silver ratio for the United Kingdom through 1800 and the United States after that, shows that between 1250 and 1850, the value of gold relative to silver gradually increased, rising from around 10 to 1 in 1250 to 15 to 1 around 1850. Despite all the discoveries of gold and silver, the seizing of gold and silver by conquerors from the conquered, or the changes in the global economy during those intervening 600 years, the ratio of the price of gold to silver saw no dramatic changes.  

This stability enabled the Bimetallic standard to prevail for those 600 years. As one country changed the domestic ratio of gold to silver, gold would leave one country and go to the other. If the gold/silver ratio was 12 in France and 11.5 in the Netherlands, gold would flow to France where it was more highly valued, and silver would flow to the Netherlands. If the Netherlands changed the ratio to 12.5 to 1, gold would flow from France to the Netherlands. Anyone who thinks governments didn’t debase their currency before paper money was introduced knows nothing about history. Paper money only enabled governments to speed up the process of debasement. The English silver Shilling had 16.2 grams of silver under William I in 1066, but only 2.6 grams under Henry VIII in 1546. The French Livre Tournois had 84 grams of gold under Philip Augustus II in 1200, but 4.5 grams when the French Revolution began in 1789. The worst offender was Spain whose Maravedí had 52 grams of silver in 1200, but only 0.031 grams of silver in 1808. What happened in the 1800s to change the gold/silver ratio forever? There were new discoveries of gold in California, Australia, South Africa and the Yukon, but what really changed things irrevocably was the huge discoveries of silver in Nevada and Colorado which caused a collapse in the price of silver, as well as its price relative to gold, as the graph below shows.
It wasn’t that countries chose to move to the Gold Standard because it was the right thing to do, but because they had no choice. The collapse in the price of silver made silver a token commodity. The relationship between gold and silver that had held for 600 years was irrevocably broken. Although almost every developed country was on the Gold Standard by 1900, few realized it was the lull before the storm. When World War I broke out in August 1914, the Gold Standard was dead. Attempts to resurrect the Gold Standard after World War I, World War II and today were doomed to fail because the relationship between gold and silver had been changed forever. Could a country like the United States return to a Gold Standard? In theory, yes, as I have demonstrated in my paper “Returning to the Gold Standard in Five Easy Steps.” In practice, it is highly unlikely.

It wasn’t governments who destroyed the Gold Standard through their fiscal ineptitude. Governments from the Roman Empire until today have run deficits and debased the currency regularly. It was the new discoveries of gold and silver and the technology to exploit those discoveries which destroyed the price relationship between gold and silver forever. Governments, and the people who vote for them, will have to learn to change their behavior if the debasement of currencies is to end. Whether that is possible, remains to be seen.

The Worst Hyperinflations in History: Hungary

  If you were to ask most people which country suffered the worst inflation in history, they would answer Germany, since Germany’s hyperinflation after World War I is probably the most famous. By 1923 when Germany finally put an end to its hyperinflation, it took 1 trillion old Marks to get 1 new Rentenmark. As devastating as the German inflation was, there were three hyperinflations that made the German case look amateurish: Hungary in 1946, Yugoslavia in 1992-1993 and Zimbabwe from 2004 to 2009. Of these three, Hungary’s was the worst of them all. Hungary was no stranger to hyperinflation. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was on the losing side of World War I and was broken up after the war. The new nation of Hungary lacked the proper government structures, so it turned to printing money to fill the hole in its budget. Before World War I, there were 5 Kronen to the US Dollar, but by 1924 there were 70,000 Kronen to the US Dollar. So Hungary replaced the Kronen with Pengö at the rate of 12,500 Pengö to the Kronen in 1926.

Hungary was spared much of World War II’s destruction until 1944 when it became a battleground between Russia and Germany, and half of Hungary’s industrial capacity was destroyed and 90% was damaged. Transportation was difficult because most of the rail lines and locomotives had been destroyed. What remained had either been taken by the Nazis back to Germany or seized as reparations by the Russians. Prices were already rising in Hungary after the war because production capacity fell due to the destruction. With no tax base to rely upon, the Hungarian government decided to stimulate the economy by printing money. It loaned money to banks at low rates who then loaned the money to companies. The government hired workers directly, they provided loans to consumers, and they gave money to people. The government literally flooded the country with money to get the economy going again. Money may not have grown on trees, but it certainly flowed off the printing presses.
To see how quickly the money supply rose, consider the fact that the currency in circulation stood at 25 billion Pengö in July 1945, rose to 1.646 trillion by January 1946, to 65 quadrillion (million billion) Pengö by May 1946 and to 47 septillion (trillion trillion) Pengö by July 1946. How bad was the inflation? Something that cost 379 Pengö in September 1945, cost 72,330 Pengö by January 1945, 453,886 Pengö by February, 1,872,910 by March, 35,790,276 Pengö by April, 11.267 billion Pengö by May 31, 862 billion Pengö by June 15, 954 trillion Pengö by June 30, 3 billion billion Pengö by July 7, 11 trillion billion Pengö by July 15 and 1 trillion trillion Pengö by July 22, 1946. Obviously, the inflation was devastating to the mathematically challenged. At the height of the inflation, prices were rising at the rate of 150,000% PER DAY. By then, the government had stopped collecting taxes altogether because even a single day’s delay in collecting taxes wiped out the value of the money the government collected. Before the war, in March 1941, there were 5 Pengö to the US Dollar, by June 1944, there were 33 Pengö to the USD and in August 1945 when the real hyperinflation began, there were already 1320 Pengö to the USD. Then, the Pengö collapsed. There were 100,000 Pengö to the USD by November 1945, 1.75 million by March 1946, 59 billion by April 1946, 42 quadrillion by May 1946 and 460 trillion trillion by July 1946. Of course, Hungary had taken some failed measures to reduce the inflation. In December 1945, the government imposed a 75% capital levy by making people turn in 400 Pengö and receive 100 Pengö back with a stamp on the banknotes to indicate they were legal tender. But they didn’t stop printing money. The hyperinflation made it even more difficult for the government to collect taxes, so they introduced the Adopengö which supposedly was indexed to inflation, but even the indexed Adopengö succumbed to the inflation. By July 1946 there were 2 million trillion Adopengö to the Pengö. So how did people cope with this onslaught of money? How did the government that printed the money handle so many zeroes? The solution was simple: change the name of the currency. The Pengö was replaced by the Milpengö (1,000,000 Pengö) which in turn was replaced by the Bilpengö (1,000,000,000,000 Pengö) which was replaced by the inflation-indexed Adopengö.
The banknotes would have the same picture on them, but be a different color. The Milliard Pengö was lavender, the Milliard Milpengö was blue and the Milliard Bilpengö was green, but except for the color, the notes looked alike. Someone who lived through the hyperinflation said they gave up on looking at the denominations and when someone bought something the cashier would say that their bread cost them two blues and a green. The Milliard Bilpengö, pictured here, is the highest denomination note ever printed since it was equal to a Billion Trillion Pengö. Unfortunately, at the end of the inflation, it was only worth about twelve cents USD.

The Forint replaced the Pengö on August 1, 1946 at the rate of 400,000 Quadrillion Pengö to the Forint; however, the stabilization worked, and prices remained relatively stable in Hungary into the 1960s. As for all the old Pengö, they were thrown away because they were worthless. So did the inflation achieve the goal of stimulating production? The hyperinflation did raise Hungary’s industrial capacity, got the railroads moving again, and got much of the capital stock replaced. However, workers lost 80% of their wages and creditors were wiped out. Politically, however, Hungary’s fate was sealed by the Communists, who eventually seized power and turned the Republic of Hungary into the People’s Republic of Hungary in 1949 with a new constitution modelled on that of the Soviet Union.

Global Financial Data Adds over 1600 Exchange Rate Files to the GFDatabase


Global Financial Data is happy to announce that it has added over 1600 new exchange rate files to the GFDatabase, doubling the number of exchange rate files within the database.

All of the new files are cross exchange rates between currencies other than the United States Dollar with over 100 cross rates to the Euro, 70 cross rates to the British Pound, 50 to the Canadian Dollar, and so forth. Virtually all of the series have daily data that extend back to 1900. Many of the series have monthly data that extend back into the 1800s. If you know the currency codes that are used by the ISO, you can put together the symbols for these currencies. The first three letters are the ISO currency code for the currency the data are in terms of, while the second group of three letters is how many currency units are needed to obtain the primary currency. As an example, CADEUR would tell you how many Euros are obtained for a Canadian Dollar. EURCAD would tell you how many Canadian Dollars are obtained for a Euro.

These exchange rates are all listed in the Main Indicators as Canadian Dollar Exchange Rate, Euro Exchange Rate, so you can get quick lists of the cross exchange rates available for each currency. If you would like a full list of these additions to the GFDatabase, please feel free to contact your sales representative.

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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.