EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA SINCE 1900 in .NET

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EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA SINCE 1900
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SHORT-TERM INTEREST RATES: 1900 1945 Table 49 lists short-term American interest rates from 1900 to 1945. It includes seven types of money-market rates: (a) prime four- to six-month commercial paper rates in terms of annual averages, monthly high averages, and monthly low averages; (b) prime sixty- to ninety-day commercial paper rates until 1936 in terms of annual averages; (c) call loan rates in terms of annual averages, monthly high and low averages, and
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THE UNITED STATES IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: 1900 1945
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Table 49 Short-Term American Interest Rates: 1900 1945
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EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA SINCE 1900
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Table 49
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THE UNITED STATES IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: 1900 1945
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Table 49
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EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA SINCE 1900
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Table 49
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THE UNITED STATES IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: 1900 1945
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Table 49
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EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA SINCE 1900
Table 49
Continued
THE UNITED STATES IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: 1900 1945
extreme quotations; (d) market rates on short-term Treasury certificates, during 1920 1931 and three-month Treasury bills from 1931 in terms of annual averages and monthly highs and lows; (e) the rediscount rate on prime paper of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in terms of annual averages and annual highs and lows; (f ) prime ninety-day bankers acceptance rates from 1918 in terms of annual averages; and (g) basic yields (Durand s) for one-year prime corporate bonds for February of each year. The table also presents a few other series of short rates not so closely connected with the money market: the prime rate for commercial loans from 1934, average business loan rates, a savings bank dividend rate (not a true interest rate), and demand deposit rates from 1918 to 1933. The commercial paper, call loan, and short-term Treasury rates are pictured in Chart 38 on page 356. Although these money-market rates usually rose and fell at the same time, and although all were rates on prime loans of one year or less in duration, they often differed strikingly from one another. Some examples of annual averages that illustrate the differences are shown in tabular form below.
The wide differences in the rates on loans of similar quality and short term again caution the analyst against engaging in generalities about the level of the short-term rate of interest. A market preference for shorter or longer maturity does not explain most of the differences between, for example, four- to six-month commercial paper and one-day call loans.
EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA SINCE 1900
The differences were not due primarily to differences in either maturity or quality. The differences in these rates often arose from the structure of the money market and the convenience of the instrument and carried only a narrow technical significance. Over the decades there have been important shifts in the relative importance of these various forms of short-term credit. In the nineteenth century, commercial paper dominated the market. Late in the century, call loans grew rapidly in importance as a more convenient form of secondary bank reserve. Call loan rates, although very volatile, averaged far below commercial paper rates during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, probably largely because of this convenience. By 1920, however, daily balances could be settled at the Federal Reserve Banks. Call loan rates in the 1920s rose approximately to the level of commercial paper rates and often higher. This was in part because short prime commercial paper could be rediscounted at the newly organized Federal Reserve Banks and security loans could not, and in part because the volume of call loans grew enormously in the late 1920s and the volume of commercial paper did not. Corporations in the United States, as in Britain, tended then to borrow more against lines of credit at their own banks and less in the commercial paper market. In the 1930 s, both the commercial paper market and the call loan market shrank in significance. Call loans never recovered their importance, partly because of strict margin-requirement rules. Treasury bills, however, have dominated the money markets both here and abroad since the 1930 s. Their rates in the 1930 s fell far below those of other short-term credit forms, sometimes to negative yields when investors or institutions wanted to report money at work rather than idle balances. At the beginning of the century, commercial paper rates were high by pre-1970 standards, and call money rates, while very volatile, were also often high. Before the establishment of the Federal Reserve System, it was not unusual for commercial paper to run up to 18 or 36% for a few days and for call money briefly to exceed 100%. The average of four- to six-month commercial paper rates actually declined from the first decade of the century to the second and from the second decade to the third. Call money rates also declined from the first decade to the second, but rose in the third decade. In contrast, one-year prime corporate bond yields rose with long-term bond yields during the first and second decades, but rose even further during the third decade. These contrasts are probably largely explained by the fact that the new Federal Reserve System helped the commercial paper market more than it helped these other short markets.
THE UNITED STATES IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: 1900 1945
In the 1930 s all short-term rates declined sharply. Most of them went to nominal levels below 1% as the protracted Depression discouraged borrowing. In the early 1940 s most short rates began to rise gradually but remained very low. The Treasury restricted non-war-related borrowing and pegged short-term government borrowing rates at the low levels of the 1930 s.
THE UNITED STATES IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: 1946 1990
POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC BACKGROUND The period from World War II to 1990 divides into two eras roughly equal in length but of marked contrast in economics and finance. From the war s end through the mid-1960 s, the United States was preeminent among nations. The American economy experienced stable economic growth with minimal inflation, aided the recovery of war-torn Europe, led the Western alliance in keeping a lid on the Cold War, assisted the efforts of the less developed countries to raise their economic levels, and prepared to land humans on the moon. Talk of the American century was common. During the later 1960 s the American century began to unravel. The remainder of the period to 1990 would be one of an unpopular war in Asia, social dissent, political scandals, a more stagnant and unstable economy, monetary instability, large budget and trade deficits that returned the country to a debtor status internationally, and, above all, a great and protracted inflation of prices. All of these developments had profound and unprecedented effects on the interest rates. DETAIL OF THE SECOND BEAR BOND MARKET: 1946 1981 The greatest of all secular bear bond markets, which began in April of 1946, and probably ended in September 1981, carried prime long American corporate bond yields from their lowest recorded yields to their highest. The yield index rose from 2.46 to 15.49% for seasoned prime issues and up to 16.5% (industrials) and 18.0% (utilities) for highquality new issues. This was a yield increase of 1303 basis points on
THE UNITED STATES IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: 1946 1990
seasoned issues, and 1981 peak yields were more than six times greater than 1946 low yields. The great bear market lasted some thirty-five years, by far the longest duration for a bear bond market in U.S. history. If a constant maturity thirty-year 21 2% bond had been available throughout this second bear market of the century, its price would have declined from 101 in 1946 to 17 in 1981, or 83%. In contrast, in the first bear bond market of the century, 1899 to 1920, the same bond would have declined 35% in price. The recent bear bond market seemed to have much more social and economic significance than that of all earlier bear bond markets. In all the others, bond yields stayed within the traditional band that had prevailed for centuries. This time they broke decisively out of that band. The bear bond market of 1946 1981 can be subdivided into seven major price declines interspersed by six rallies. These are summarized in terms of the monthly average of prime corporate bond yields and a corresponding price index for a constant maturity 21 2% bond in the table on page 368. The economic climate during the postwar period from 1946 to the mid-1960 s was favorable, often exuberant. It was not until 1958 that inflationary expectations became highly articulate, and then for a while there developed something like a flight from bonds and from the dollar into gold, foreign currencies, or equities. By 1961, stability was restored, and the inflation rate was negligible for the next five years. In 1965, however, a dangerous inflationary spiral began and with it a superboom that was only briefly interrupted by a recession in 1970. Wage and price controls imposed in 1971 and relaxed in 1973 had no lasting effect on the price level. Inflation reached double digits in 1974, in part because of a steep increase in oil prices put into effect by the OPEC cartel in late 1973. It spread through most of the free world. At times it seemed that no government could command a political majority in favor of effective antiinflation measures. The recession of 1974 1975 reduced the inflation from double digits to under 6% in 1975 1976, but this was merely a temporary lull as inflation marched back up to double digit levels during 1979 1981. Another steep increase in oil prices in 1979 again contributed to the price upsurge. A brief recession in 1980 had almost no impact on the inflation. The term stagflation came into general use as a result of the experiences of 1973 1975 and 1980 1982. The optimistic economic climate of the initial postwar decades gave way to a deepening pessimism in the 1970 s and early 1980 s. Interest rates advanced to their highest levels in the American record, leading to a severe recession in 1981 1982, after which inflation retreated to annual rates of 3 to 5% during the remainder of the 1980 s. Interest rates and yields also retreated, but remained, at the close of the 1980 s, at levels not seen in the American markets before 1974 (see Chart 39 and Tables 50 and 51).