Financial essentials

Use the Financial Times Historical Archive via Westminster LibrariesIn this age of austerity, many of us can’t even afford to buy the Financial Times at £2.50 a pop – £3 on Saturdays – and even those who managed to inherit or accumulate stock portfolios during the good times may well be cashing them in now to pay for the heating in the ancestral pile or to get Granny into a decent care home.

Still, some of us, even the hopeful and industrious poor, do need access to the Financial Times, with its authoritative articles, and above all its comprehensive price listings for shares, commodities, bonds, currencies and such like.

So it’s reassuring to know that several Westminster libraries buy paper copies of the FT, with Marylebone Information Service and Westminster Reference Library keeping their back copies for one month and three months respectively; and also that for some time all our members have had access to text versions of FT articles going back to 2nd January 1998 on NewsBank… but that’s old hat…

No, our newest baby, the Financial Times Historical Archive 1888-2007, was brought back from the maternity hospital already singing, dancing, painting the walls tartan and displaying every page of the Financial Times from 1888 onwards.

When we first bought it last year, its coverage reached to 2006, but at the time of writing (Febuary 2012) it’s been extended to 2007. So on the one hand, it’s a lovely long facsimile archive of every issue from the very first, including all those daily prices; but on the other hand, they deliberately keep this sensitive and expensively-compiled financial information five calendar years out of date for people who haven’t bought the paper in the first place or subscribed to their internet version….

Never mind, there are other ways of getting more recent information. For instance, Google finance and Yahoo! Finance are both links from the Business & economics section of the Gateway to websites. This one’s searchable by text and browsable by issue date. It also has juicy extras like “helpful introductions” and Research Topics, and facilities to save, bookmark, print and email articles Just one word (well, a few words) of warning: searches for share prices or other items from the listings can be made difficult by the fact that company names are often abbreviated; also, the text recognition software doesn’t always work on the small print used in these tables. So do be ready to try more than one method of entry into the information you want. It’s often simplest to find your date then browse through the listings yourself.

The Financial Times Historical Archive 1888-2007 is accessible in any Westminster Library, or remotely using your Westminster Library card number. You’ll find links to it on the Exclusive Resources page in our 24/7 Library, and in the News and Magazines section of our Gateway. NewsBank is available via the same links.

[Neil]

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