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what is the average 10 year US treasury yield since 1798??

http://www.siliconinvestor.com/stocktalk/msg.gsp?msgid=20061486
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If memery serves, most of the 1800's through the 1910's saw minor deflation. Only when the Fed was created did inflation really become the norm. This would skew any mean of nominal yields to the downside, I would think.

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If memery serves, most of the 1800's through the 1910's saw minor deflation.

You are quite right, the 19th century was characterized by continuing deflation with only occasional bouts of inflation which resulted in prices in real terms being lower at the end of the century than at the beginning.
The two principle factors being a very stable hard currency and the incredible pace of technological innovation that caused productivity to soar well above the increases in wages. (one of Joseph Schumpter key theories is that all things being equal, periods of revolutionary technological change are by necessity deflationary.)

For those who like to look at actual numbers, here is the percentage rates from 1801-1900

1801 1.32
1802 -15.69
1803 5.43
1804 4.41
1805 -0.7
1806 4.26
1807 -5.44
1808 8.63
1809 -1.99
1810 0
1811 6.76
1812 1.27
1813 20
1814 9.9
1815 -12.32
1816 -8.65
1817 -5.33
1818 -4.38
1819 0
1820 -7.84
1821 -3.55
1822 3.68
1823 -10.64
1824 -7.94
1825 2.59
1826 0
1827 0.84
1828 -5
1829 -1.75
1830 -0.89
1831 -6.31
1832 -0.96
1833 -1.94
1834 1.98
1835 2.91
1836 5.66
1837 2.68
1838 -2.61
1839 0
1840 -7.14
1841 0.96
1842 -6.67
1843 -9.18
1844 1.12
1845 1.11
1846 1.1
1847 7.61
1848 -4.04
1849 -3.16
1850 2.17
1851 -2.13
1852 1.09
1853 0
1854 8.6
1855 2.97
1856 -1.92
1857 2.94
1858 -5.71
1859 1.01
1860 0
1861 6
1862 14.15
1863 24.79
1864 25.17
1865 3.7
1866 -2.55
1867 -6.81
1868 -3.93
1869 -4.09
1870 -4.27
1871 -6.37
1872 0
1873 -2.04
1874 -4.86
1875 -3.65
1876 -2.27
1877 -2.33
1878 -4.76
1879 0
1880 2.5
1881 0
1882 0
1883 -1.63
1884 -2.48
1885 -1.69
1886 -2.59
1887 0.88
1888 0
1889 -2.63
1890 -1.8
1891 0
1892 0
1893 -0.92
1894 -4.63
1895 -1.94
1896 0
1897 -0.99
1898 0
1899 0
1900 1

Note the very high rates during the Civil War, as much to the issuance of "greenbacks" during the war by the Federal Government as due to other factors (and those numbers have been disputed by some economic historians as being too high)

It's also worth noting that the Great Depression managed to even out the inflationary cycle that began in the early 20th century while it lasted – from 1860 to 1940 the net rate of inflation was zero.

This is from Bernstein's site:
Before Inflation 1801-1900 (nominal rate of return)
Stocks: 6.51%
Bonds: 4.99%
After Inflation -- or in this case deflation. (real rate of return)
Stocks: 6.76%
Bonds 5.23%

1901-2000
Before Inflation
Stocks: 9.89%
Bonds: 4.87%
After Inflation
Stocks: 6.45%
Bonds: 1.57%

Interesting, isn't it. Stocks (in aggregate) real rate of return regardless of inflation has been in the 6.5% or so range, but bonds have been a terrible investment in the 20th century, unlike the 19th where they must have been a very viable alternative investment – particularly on a risk adjusted basis.


BTW, for those who are interested in the theory of long term cycles, Schumpter's two volume Business Cycles is well worth reading, or at least browsing through...

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