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An important piece of Swedish history

From the start in 1968 at the Stockholm School of Economics, the financial database FinBas has served both academics and practitioners. It has since grown into a complete history of the Swedish stock market dating all the way back to 1912.

 

Erik Eklund was involved with FinBas right from the start. As his studies at the Stockholm School of Economics started to come to an end he was looking for new opportunities when he heard about the database project at the Department of Accounting.

 

– I was hired as an assistant in 1977 and my job was to populate the structure that had been developed by senior faculty members. It was a difficult task as everything had to be done manually but we had great timing. When the stock market started to move in the 1980’s people in the industry realized how useful FinBas was and we suddenly had about 20 – 30 subscribers and the operations grew into a real company, says Erik Eklund.

 

Little did he know that he would be working with FinBas still 40 years later. When FinBas became too big to keep within the SSE organization it was restructured into an independent company. It was later sold to the Bonnier group and then sold again to OMX, which later became part of the Nasdaq group. When the Swedish House of Finance was founded in 2011, FinBas was donated by Nasdaq back to the academic community and Erik Eklund found himself right back at the place where it all started.

 

A unique project

 

While being part of the Nasdaq group, the FinBas-group was delivering real time data feeds to all back offices of Nordic banks, trading companies and to other departments within Nasdaq. At that time, the operations consisted of a total of 14 people. Today, FinBas is purely used for academic purposes and while still being able to deliver daily price data, the current FinBas-project is to look back and give a historical perspective of the evolvement of a stock market in Sweden.

 

– We have been collecting and processing data for four years now and will soon have a complete database covering stock market prices and stock return series for all listed companies in Sweden starting in 1912. When it is finished it will be a unique and comprehensive history of the Swedish stock market, says Kristian Rydqvist, Professor of Finance at Binghamton University, New York who is working on the project together with Erik Eklund.

 

The purpose of this project is to increase knowledge about the Swedish market. A majority of researchers use data from the US, simply because there is electronic data available and due to the size of the market. By providing data from the Swedish setting FinBas facilitates a growing knowledge of Swedish history and insights useful also in today’s setting.

 

– It is a common belief that we had a well functioning stock market already in the 19th century but data shows that trading of any significant volume actually only started in the 1980s. That was surprising to me, says Kristian Rydqvist.

 

Another component that both Erik and Kristian noticed while going through old annual reports and lists of stock ownership was the relatively high proportion of female owners.

 

– As much as 25 percent of owners in the beginning of the 20th century were women and this is something we would like to continue to study, says Kristian.

 

As the mapping of historical price- and stock return series is near the finish line, the second phase of the project is taking form. 8 000 annual reports have been scanned and made available for analysis. Kristian and Erik will produce standardized accounting variables for all companies in the FinBas. This will provide further interesting research opportunities for academics.

 

– The most interesting aspect of this project to me is to think about the conditions needed for a functioning market to appear. When we understand that we can also take care of that same market and make it work in the most efficient way, says Kristian Rydqvist.

 

FinBas facts:

Contains: information about all listed companies in the Nordics (except Iceland) with focus on Sweden. In total around 4,500 companies.

Year: 1912 – ongoing for Sweden. 1993 – ongoing for Denmark, 1986 -ongoing for Finland and 1980 – ongoing for Norway.

Information in the database: stock market prices, stock return series, all corporate actions, items from the accounting like book value, profit/loss etc. You will also find the most common daily stock indexes, currency rates and a selection of interest rates.

Useful for: students and researchers in Finance, Economics, Accounting

Funded by: Swedish House of Finance at the Stockholm School of Economics, Nasdaq Nordic Foundation, the Söderberg Foundation

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