Global Financial Data Series

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    In the Global Financial Data Series, the publisher (GFD) provides deep historical data on a wide variety of securities, price indices, exports, imports and more from around the world.  This resource is unique in that it is the only resource, at this point, that provides easy access to many historical time series.

    May 31, 2024 4:27pm
    Collection Content

    In the Global Financial Data Series, the publisher (GFD) provides deep historical data on a wide variety of securities, price indices, exports, imports and more for over 200 countries, from around the world.  This resource is unique in that it is the only resource, at this point, that provides easy access to many historical time series.  

    The basic database in the series is the GFDatabase, presenting data on a macro level from the following asset classes on over 200 different countries:

    • Equities (from 1693)
    • Fixed Income (from 1520)
    • Exchange Rates (from 1383)
    • Inflation (from 1209)
    • Commodities (from 1252)
    • Economic Data (from 1168)
    • Asset Allocation (from 1800)

    The USDatabase (U.S. Stocks) has company-based information for all listed securities on any American Exchange from:

    • U.S. Securities (from 1790)
    • Foreign Stocks (from 1693)
    • Delisted Stocks (from 1693)

    The Real Estate Database, developed in partnership with Winans International, has U. S. commercial and residential data, including:

    • Housing prices  (from 1830)
    • National and regional average and median home prices
    • National and regional new home sales
    • National home average square foot data

    The U.K. Database covers historical data on stocks and other British financial data up through the present day, consisting of:

    • London Stock Exchange (daily prices from 1693)
    • London Bond Market
    • London Equities (data on individual securities from 1693)

    Data sources for each series are cited. Notable sources include Bank of England lending rates and FTSE from the bank’s inception in 1694 to present day.  The Bank’s consol bond (perpetual bonds with no maturities) prices are available from 1729 to present.  The series features complete stock prices for South Sea, East India, and Mississippi Companies over their lifespans.  Recent additions include series from 27 U.S. regional stock exchanges. 

    The publishers have included some public domain, open access content as a convenience in response to those wishing to combine it with other GFD sources. This includes data from the European Commission’s Eurostat office and the World Bank. This may help explain why roughly 50% of subscribers are from sites other than North America.

    From a geographic coverage perspective, the historical data is strongest for North America and Europe. The publishers indicate that they are exploring adding more stock  databases for countries in these regions.

    Update to Review 10/12/2017:

    GFD added a new database, GFD Global Indices.  According to GFD, "GFD Global Indices are proprietary indices calculated by Global Financial Data using data series included in the GFDatabase, the US Stocks Database, and the UK Stock Database.  These series aggregate data from thousands of data sets to help users analyze historical trends." 

    GFD Global Indices provides indices for the following asset classes:

    • GFD Global Bond Indices
    • GFD Global Commodity Indices
    • GFD Global Equity Indices
    • GFD London Equity Indices
    • GFD US Equity Indices

    Update to Review 4/12/2018:

    GFD has announced new updates including:

    • Updates to the search tools
    • A ticker upload that allows users to upload tickers to GFD and download the data without searching for individual symbols
    • A capitalization graphing tool that allows users to graph the various sectors at any given point in history
    • An events in time feature that allows users to search over 80,000 historical events that may have shaped market behavior
    • Launch of a new web platform and several APIs, including a new JSON REST API that can be called R or Python
    • Users now have the ability to create their own custom indices, utilizing GFD's Index Creation Tool
    • OTC Bank Stocks Data from the 1800's to present
    • New corporate website with more than 400 new articles and blog posts

    The data is fairly easy to use and is clearly labeled.  By mousing over each data series the user can see a complete explanation of underlying data sources (“metadata”) as well as explanations for imputed (supplied) data. 

    Generally, for each series, the user can see a graph and also choose to download the data to Excel. Formatting of the data downloads is very flexible and allows customization such as applying adjustments for inflation, or converting amounts to various currencies. GFD expects that users will download the data to use in various analytical tools. The license acknowledges various re-uses of the information in derived data and modeling by “authorized users”, as long as the uses are non-commercial.

    In 2020, GFD made updates to their website.  All academics using a proxy service will need to change the location of the domain to  This change will go into effect the weekend of November 8, 2020. 


    Terms for access to the GFD series are intended to ensure that use is restricted to non-commercial purposes by current students and faculty at subscribing academic institutions.

    • Each user must establish an “authorized user” account, logging in from the institution’s email domain, and initially accepting an online “authorized user license agreement” to obtain access to the data. No anonymous accounts are allowed, and login is allowed only through IP and Proxy ranges provided by the subscribing institutions.
    • The publisher tracks account usage for internal monitoring purposes, in compliance with data source vendors’ requirements for usage audit capability.
    • There is a default institutional limit of 50 simultaneous users. There also are limits on the extent of material individual users can download, with the default set at 300 files per day.
    • Further, while the license notes that GFD does not claim any rights in or to derived data created by researchers, GFD states the right to determine whether “the Derived Data reflects more than an insignificant portion of any licensed product.”
    • Additionally a termination provision requires files to be returned to the publisher upon cancellation of the institutional subscription and prohibits subsequent use by researchers thereafter. (The publisher has indicated that research begun when the resources are licensed can still be published, within a reasonable amount of time.)


    2018 Update - NYSE Corporate Action Data :

    In 2019, GFD will be entering into a new agreement with the NYSE who will provide GFD with daily stock price updates as well as corporate action data (i.e. splits and dividends).   The NYSE corporate action data require a license, and current subscriber to the US Stocks Database who would like to download the NYSE corporate actions data from 2002 to present will be subject to a licensing fee. No license is required for the price data or fundamental data.  If an institution chooses not to receive corporate actions from 2002 forward, no license is required.

    Strengths and Weaknesses

    For those conducting economics and business research, the series can provide insights into historical macroeconomic environments.  Researchers Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff used GFD data in their notable book, This Time Is Different:  Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, originally published in 2009.  The book explores financial crises throughout time, and GFD data used was for exchange rates, cost of living indices, GDP, public debt, commodities and more.   In addition, a look in various scholarly business and economics journals will show that researchers use GFD for a wide range of research activities. 

    For researchers conducting deep historical research, the series is really the only resource with long time series going back hundreds of years.  For more recent years, GFD has competitors such as S&P’s Compustat as well as statistical agencies that make data available for free on the internet.  However, the ability to quickly download an entire series across hundreds of years is an advantage.  In the areas of historical business and economics research, GFD can be an essential source.


    Carol Doyle, Business Collection Development Librarian         

    Northwestern University Library

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