Monday, July 18, 2011

Data Resource: Historical Financial Statistics

The Johns Hopkins Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and Study of Business Enterprise, co-directed by Louis Galambos and Steve Hanke, is co-sponsor with the Center for Financial Stability, headed by Lawrence Goodman, of a new repository of historical financial data. Historical Financial Statistics went online a year ago, with the goal of providing "a source of comprehensive, authoritative, easy-to-use macroeconomic data stretching back several centuries. [The] target range of coverage is from 1492 to the present, with special emphasis on the years before 1950." The Johns Hopkins page further explains:
The Historical Financial Statistics Project is designed to bring long-term perspective to current financial research, policy, and practice. The financial data that are being compiled and digitized by Dr. Kurt Schuler from the Center, and Dr. Steve Hanke and Nicholas Krus from the Institute, cover over 40 countries and include data from the 10th century to the present, although its focus is on the 1492-1950 period, which few other databases cover. Included in the data are exchange rates, money, banking, interest rates, prices, employment, the balance of payments, government finance, and GDP. . . . A community of scholars from around the world graciously contributes their time and digitized information to deepening the data offering.
A full listing of currently available data is available on the site. Researchers should be aware that the nature of the project means that many types of data remain missing for some countries and time periods, especially pre-1800. The site managers are happy to have contributions of new data sets; they supply a set of directions and contact information for those interested. The site also provides some handy tools, including a "Key Dates in Financial History" timeline and a list of city and country names including old and local names.