D-FIH database relies on two main serial sources: the official lists of Paris Stock Exchange, which provides information about the assets, and the stock exchange yearbooks, containing informations about the issuers. Other sources, such as the Avis et Décisions of the Compagnie des Agents de Change are used to complete the information about securities events. These sources change over time as for their layout and information contained, therefore, one of the challenges of D-FIH project is to store and organize data extracted from these various and changing sources.
The Cours authentique et officiel
The Cours authentique et officiel (Official List) became a daily publication at the end of 18th century. Its structure changed significantly over time, according with the evolution of Paris financial market, its rules and practises. The early official list at the end of 18th century, contained mainly gold and silver prices, foreign exchanges (Cote de Changes), some government securities (French rent, Treasury and Paris bonds) and a few private ones. Then, progressively, the securities of private companies started developing. At the end of 19th century, the official list started having a more stable structure and configuration. Together with the indication of spot prices in the chronological order and minimum, maximum, first and last prices for the forward and option market, it included other information such the closing prices of the previous day, the last dividend/interest paid, and the ex-coupon dates. Overtime, other information like the number of securities admitted to the Exchange and taxes on coupons and dividends appears.
The stock exchange yearbooks
The stock exchange yearbooks used within the project were published by two different editors: the Chambre Syndicale of the Compagnie des Agents de Change (i.e. governing body of the exchange; henceforth, CAC yearbooks), and a private editor, Desfossés, the leader in the financial information market. The former publishes data on the issuers of securities listed on the Paris Bourse, the latter on the issuers of securities listed on both the Paris Bourse and the Paris OTC market, the so called Coulisse. The CAC yearbooks are published from 1880 up to 1936. They provide information about public issuers (the financial situation of a state, region, department, municipality) and the issued securities. For each issued bond, they report the details of the statutes authorizing the issues, potential specific guarantees affected by the issuer to the payment of interests and reimbursement of capital, the amount of capital and the number of issued securities, their nominal prices, the amount of the coupons and the ex-coupon dates, the sinking process and other technicalities. For private issuers, the CAC yearbooks also publish specific information about the companies: juridical status, purpose and location, but also the evolution of firms’ equity capital, that is the original equity capital and all the operations on that (increases or reductions). It contains also information on the profits sharing and the rules surrounding the general meetings of the shareholders, the shareholders’ voting rights according to the (type of) stocks they hold as well as corporate governance rules. Regarding the securities, descriptions of all the securities issued by the companies for both stocks and bonds are provided. Finally, it is possible to find the names and functions of all members of the boards of directors. Within the Equipex, Desfossés yearbooks are used from 1912 to 1980. Compared with CAC Yearbook, they provide some additional information such as simplified balance sheets, as well as and profit and loss accounts.
Conservation of official lists and online availabilities
A complete series of the official lists is conserved at both the Centre des archives économiques et financières (http://www.economie.gouv.fr/caef) , the archives of the French Ministry of Finance and Economy, and at the Archives of the Banque de France (https://www.banque-france.fr/la-banque-de-france/histoire/archives-historiques.html). The complete collection of the CAC yearbooks and an almost complete collection of the Desfossés yearbooks are conserved at the Centre des archives économiques et financières. As it will be explained below, the cooperation of the archivists of these two institutions have been vital in order to implement the project.
As explained in Sect. 3.3, the production of data requires the scanning of these sources. The scanned images of the original sources are intended to be put online via open infrastructures such as Gallica (http://gallica.bnf.fr/) and Huma-Num (http://www.huma-num.fr/), both searchable via the engine Isidore (http://www.rechercheisidore.fr). A first set of sources, the official lists from 1802 to 1925, has already been put online on the Gallica website thanks to an agreement between the Banque de France, the Paris School of Economics and the French National Library (http://www.bnf.fr).