Nitin made the comment:

Christian I agree with you that economists have gotten it v wrong. Pragmatists like Paulson can identify opportunities well ahead of time and make tons of money with concentrated bets.
BTW from where do you get the Great Depression and prior era data on US stocks? I am doing some research on historical PEs of US stocks, not just S&P index PE. Would appreciate if you could tell me the vendors having clean reliable data prior to 1968.

Where do I get my data? Not easily. I have old texts, books, graphics and slowly reconstruct the data. In high school I was not interested in history. But with the passing of time I have become very interested in history.

What I like to do is buy historical finance books. For example, 45 years on Wallstreet, a book I referenced in my last blog entry. Another source is the economist or you could get a subscription to The Economist historical archive. Then there is Google itself. Do a search at, and in the results do a search all dates. The archives go back to around the year 1800.

For example want to know about the evils of “The Credit System"? It was an article written in 1838. It is a bit harder to read since it is more flowery than the way we write now. But the essence of the article is very interesting in that it talks about how bad credit is. When you read it you notice that not much of the debate has changed since 1838! Nearly 200 years have passed and what are people talking about? The Constitution, liberty and self-government. Same old same old. That in itself is an interesting finding.

What it means is that whenever you hear, “new economy”, “new normal”, what in fact is being discussed is a temporary shift from an old view. It does not mean that you should hold stread fast to your old views. What it means is that you should be aware of change.

To close this blog entry I will answer the question as follows:

  • Clean reliable data is a contradiction because in the 1800’s I don’t think they were completely aware of what they were writing.
  • You need to piece things together yourself and you need to extrapolations.
  • Data is not quite as interesting as opinions and writings. Very often they highlight very interesting situations that you can use in your analysis.