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
 

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