Turning Points in Business Cycles

By Leonard P. Ayres | Go to book overview

APPENDIX E
STOCK PRICES

Stock prices given in Column 3 of Table 9 from 1831 through 1845 are simple averages of two series, one consisting of rail stocks, and the other of bank and insurance stocks. During the first three years the average of the quoted prices of stocks of four canal companies were used in place of rail stocks, since no monthly data for rails could be found for those three years. Beginning in 1834 the rail stocks are those of Tables 69 and 70 in "Fluctuations in American Business," by Smith and Cole, published by the Harvard University Press in 1935. The data in Table 69 were multiplied by .78 so as to put them on the same base with those of Table 70. The series of bank and insurance stocks was taken from Table 62 of the volume by Smith and Cole.

The combined series appearing in Column 3 of Table 9 probably represents closely the prevailing levels of typical stock prices during those years. Hunt's Merchants' Magazine for 1845 carries a table on page 284 giving the prices of 15 railroad stocks and 23 New York City bank stocks in December of 1844. The average price of the 38 stocks in that month was 90.4, and in that month the average price of the stocks in Column 3 of Table 9 in this book is 91.0.

From the beginning of 1846 to the end of 1856 the data are the average prices of 26 rail stocks taken from Table 70 of the volume by Smith and Cole. A table in Hunt's Merchants' Magazine for February, 1857, shows that in December of 1854 the average of the actual quoted prices of 19 rail stocks was nearly the same as that of the index numbers of the Smith and Cole computations used as stock prices in Table 9 of this book.

From the beginning of 1857 to the end of 1870 the data of Table 9 are made by multiplying by a constantly changing multiplier the data for railroad stock prices computed by Frederick R. Macaulay and appearing in his book, "The Movements of Interest Rates, Bond Yields and Stock Prices in the United States since 1856," published in 1938 by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The multiplier for January, 1857, is 3.35; for February it is 3.34; and it is decreased by .01 each month until it is 1.41 in December, 1870. The Bankers' Magazine for 1870-71 carries a table on page 714 of Vol. 25 which gives the average of the

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