Recently, I was trying to help someone get US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) statistics back to 1915. The problem? GDP did not exist as a construct going that far back in time. However, there was a source that came to mind: Global Financial Data (GFD). This database specializes in providing long time series on stocks, bonds, and economic indicators. In the case of GDP for the United States, they have extended it back to 1789. You can use GFD anonymously or you can create a personal account in order to access certain features such as saving workbooks.

Image of GFD login page.  Academics have the choice to log in anonymously or create a log-in

Directly from the landing page, you access search options, GFD Power Downloads, and Help.

Image of the landing page for Global Financial Data. Includes Search options, GFD Power Downloads, and Help

It is easy to download data or to create graphs to demonstrate a point. Below is a sampling of what GFD has to offer.

Time Series: Go to the GFD Universe to search for the variables you want to use. You can also limit your search by other categories such as US Stocks, GFD Indices, or UK Stocks. Download as excel or .csv files. You can also create a workbook in autotrack to keep a list of series for use in the future if you’ve created your own account.

Images shows how to search the GFD Universe by using filters such as country, data type, date, etc.

In fact, GFD provides power downloads of frequently requested series. These are accessible directly from the landing screen.

Image of excel spreadsheet with data from GFD Power Download of Dow Industrials.  Shows first several rows which provide constituent data

You can also get constituent members over time for US indices. You can download all members over time or you can select a specific date.

Image of a search in GFD for constituent members of the S&P 500 in the year 1939.  LIsted and delisted companies are included.

GFD Indices are created by Global Financial Data, using proprietary methodology, to extend an index back in time, in some cases back before it actually existed.

Events in time. You can search for events in history to find relevant dates. Then select data to see how this event may have influenced a stock market, economic indicator, or other variables.

For instance, I selected World War I as an event. I wanted to compare how Government 10Y Bond Returns changed for the USA, United Kingdom and Germany. I selected GFD Indices and searched for bond indices by country.

First look up the all codes you will need. Search on one country variable and select the graph view. Next click on the Graphing icon. Once, a graph is loaded on the screen click Graph Options in the top left to select options.

Image of the Graphing Options icon above a graph of the 10yr United Kingdom Government Bond.

Select the settings you prefer.

Image of Chart settings for a graph in GFD.

At the bottom of the options screen click on comparison. Select Compare Series, add the other codes you want and click on Graph Data.

Once you click Graph Data a comparison chart appears.

Image of total returns for !0 years bonds for United Kingdom, USA and Germany for the years 1910-1920.

For more detailed information on how to search Global Financial Data, use this guide prepared by the Stanford GSB Library.

There is so much information in Global Financial Data. Hopefully this will get you started.

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