Measuring Worth: Interest Rates - US, UK, China, Japan

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The mission of the site is to make available to the public the highest quality and most reliable historical data on important economic aggregates, with particular emphasis on nominal measures.

The data have been created using the highest standards of the fields of economics and history and are rigorously refereed by the most distinguished researchers in the fields. Beginning with the United States and United Kingdom and continuing with Japan and China, there will continue to be series additions from other countries under the same high standard.

The emphasis on nominal measures distinguishes this site. This is because to comprehend a past transaction or asset, one must begin with the contemporary value of the item. To make this valuation meaningful, it must be measured against the value of the appropriate economic indicator in that year. To understand the valuation from another year’s perspective, one must carry that measure forward against the changing value of the indicator.

Have you ever wondered what the price of gold was in 1907? Or what the GDP was in 1932? Presented here are many useful historic data sets that we developed in order to answer such questions.

*The Annual Real and Nominal GDP for the United States, 1790 to Present.
*The Annual Real and Nominal GDP for the United Kingdom, 1300 to Present.
*The Annual Value Consumer Price Index for the United States, 1774 to Present.
*The Annual Wages in the United States, Unskilled Labor and Manufaturing, 1774 to Present.
*The Annual Price Index, Real and Nominal Earnings for the United Kingdom, 1264 to Present.
*The Annual Value of the Consumer Bundle for the United States, 1900 to Present.
*The Annual Nominal GDP and Price Index for the China 1952 to Present.
*The Annual Real and Nominal GDP, Price Indexes and Wage for Japan 1879 to Present.
*The Annual Standard and Poor’s Composite Stock Index for the United States, 1871 to Present.
*Daily Closing Values of the Dow Jones Average in the United States, May 2, 1885 to Present.
*The Price of Gold, 1257 to Present.
*Interest Rate Series for the United Kingdom and the United States, 1729 to Present.
*Exchange Rates Between the United States Dollar and Forty-one Currencies
*Dollar-Pound Exchange Rate From 1791 to Present.

Prior to using the data presented in any of these series, it is strongly recommend that you read the “Guide to What Was the Interest Rate Then?” This guide, only three pages in length, is oriented to the general reader but is also a useful summary of the interest-rate material for the scholar. The serious scholar or specialist should also read “What Was the Interest Rate Then? A Data Study.” This 109-page monograph describes fully the generation and characteristics of the series in What Was the Interest Rate Then?, enables the scholar to interpret the series, and provides information permitting the scholar to alter the series as required for his or her own purposes.


Lawrence H. Officer, “What Was the Interest Rate Then?” MeasuringWorth, 2008. URL:

Please read our Note on Data Revisions.
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