Chart: Visualizing the 700-Year Decline of Interest Rates
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Visualizing the 700-Year Fall of Interest Rates

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Visualizing the 700-Year Decline of Interest Rates

Visualizing the 700-Year Decline of Interest Rates

How far can interest rates fall?

Currently, many sovereign rates sit in negative territory, and there is an unprecedented $10 trillion in negative-yielding debt. This new interest rate climate has many observers wondering where the bottom truly lies.

Today’s graphic from Paul Schmelzing, visiting scholar at the Bank of England (BOE), shows how global real interest rates have experienced an average annual decline of -0.0196% (-1.96 basis points) throughout the past eight centuries.

The Evidence on Falling Rates

Collecting data from across 78% of total advanced economy GDP over the time frame, Schmelzing shows that real rates* have witnessed a negative historical slope spanning back to the 1300s.

Displayed across the graph is a series of personal nominal loans made to sovereign establishments, along with their nominal loan rates. Some from the 14th century, for example, had nominal rates of 35%. By contrast, key nominal loan rates had fallen to 6% by the mid 1800s.

Centennial Averages of Real Long-Term “Safe-Asset”† Rates From 1311-2018

%1300s1400s1500s1600s1700s1800s1900s2000s
Nominal rate7.311.27.85.44.13.55.03.5
Inflation2.22.11.70.80.60.03.12.2
Real rate5.19.16.14.63.53.42.01.3

*Real rates take inflation into account, and are calculated as follows: nominal rate – inflation = real rate.
†Safe assets are issued from global financial powers

Starting in 1311, data from the report shows how average real rates moved from 5.1% in the 1300s down to an average of 2% in the 1900s.

The average real rate between 2000-2018 stands at 1.3%.

Current Theories

Why have interest rates been trending downward for so long?

Here are the three prevailing theories as to why they’re dropping:

1. Productivity Growth

Since 1970, productivity growth has slowed. A nation’s productive capacity is determined by a number of factors, including labor force participation and economic output.

If total economic output shrinks, real rates will decline too, theory suggests. Lower productivity growth leads to lower wage growth expectations.

In addition, lower productivity growth means less business investment, therefore a lower demand for capital. This in turn causes the lower interest rates.

2. Demographics

Demographics impact interest rates on a number of levels. The aging population—paired with declining fertility levels—result in higher savings rates, longer life expectancies, and lower labor force participation rates.

In the U.S., baby boomers are retiring at a pace of 10,000 people per day, and other advanced economies are also seeing comparable growth in retirees. Theory suggests that this creates downward pressure on real interest rates, as the number of people in the workforce declines.

3. Economic Growth

Dampened economic growth can also have a negative impact on future earnings, pushing down the real interest rate in the process. Since 1961, GDP growth among OECD countries has dropped from 4.3% to 3% in 2018.

Larry Summers referred to this sloping trend since the 1970s as “secular stagnation” during an International Monetary Fund conference in 2013.

Secular stagnation occurs when the economy is faced with persistently lagging economic health. One possible way to address a declining interest rate conundrum, Summers has suggested, is through expansionary government spending.

Bond Yields Declining

According to the report, another trend has coincided with falling interest rates: declining bond yields.

Since the 1300s, global nominal bonds yields have dropped from over 14% to around 2%.

bond yields declining

The graph illustrates how real interest rates and bond yields appear to slope across a similar trend line. While it may seem remarkable that interest rates keep falling, this phenomenon shows that a broader trend may be occurring—across centuries, asset classes, and fiscal regimes.

In fact, the historical record would imply that we will see ever new record lows in real rates in future business cycles in the 2020s/30s

-Paul Schmelzing

Although this may be fortunate for debt-seekers, it can create challenges for fixed income investors—who may seek alternatives strategies with higher yield potential instead.

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Markets

The Best Selling Vehicles in America, By State

From Fords in the Midwest to Toyotas on the coasts, here are the best selling vehicles in America, visualized by state.

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The Best Selling Cars in America, By State Shareable

The Best Selling Vehicles in America, By State

From Ford trucks in the Midwest to Toyotas on the coasts, the best selling vehicles in America reveal a lot about the country.

Compared to other countries with fewer highways or narrower roads, the U.S. is very much a truck-friendly country. Across the U.S., the most sold vehicle in 2019 was the Ford F-Series of trucks, primarily the F-150.

As the home of the world’s pioneer automotive manufacturers, including Ford and GM, consumers primarily purchase local brands. But that hasn’t stopped Toyota, the largest foreign manufacturer in the world, from also gaining a foothold.

This graphic uses 2020 sales data from automotive information resource Edmunds.com, breaking down the best selling vehicles in each state through new vehicle retail registration.

What Are the Best Selling Vehicles in Each State?

Despite a slowdown in vehicle sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a global chip shortage, Americans still bought plenty of trucks last year.

In fact, 48 out of the 50 states had a truck or SUV as the top selling vehicle in 2020—and most states actually had trucks taking all of the top three spots. The only two with a car topping the leaderboard were California and Florida.

Top Selling Vehicle By State (2020)#1#2#3
AlabamaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoToyota Camry
AlaskaRam 1500-3500Ford F-SeriesChevrolet Silverado
ArizonaRam 1500-3500Ford F-SeriesChevrolet Silverado
ArkansasRam 1500-3500Ford F-SeriesChevrolet Silverado
CaliforniaHonda CivicToyota RAV4Toyota Camry
ColoradoFord F-SeriesRam 1500-3500Toyota RAV4
ConnecticutHonda CR-VToyota RAV4Subaru Forester
D.C.Toyota RAV4Honda CR-VSubaru Forester
DelawareFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
FloridaToyota CorollaFord F-SeriesToyota RAV4
GeorgiaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
HawaiiToyota TacomaToyota 4RunnerToyota RAV4
IdahoFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
IllinoisFord F-SeriesHonda CR-VChevrolet Silverado
IndianaChevrolet SilveradoFord F-SeriesChevrolet Equinox
IowaChevrolet SilveradoFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500
KansasFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
KentuckyChevrolet SilveradoFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500
LouisianaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
MaineFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
MarylandToyota RAV4Ford F-SeriesHonda CR-V
MassachusettsToyota RAV4Honda CR-VFord F-Series
MichiganFord F-SeriesChevrolet EquinoxRAM 1500-3500
MinnesotaChevrolet SilveradoFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500
MississippiFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
MissouriFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
MontanaFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
NebraskaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
NevadaRam 1500-3500Ford F-SeriesToyota RAV4
New HampshireFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoToyota RAV4
New JerseyHonda CR-VHonda CivicToyota RAV4
New MexicoFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
New YorkHonda CR-VToyota RAV4Jeep Cherokee
North CarolinaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
North DakotaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
OhioFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
OklahomaFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
OregonToyota RAV4Ford F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500
PennsylvaniaFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Honda CR-V
Puerto RicoToyota RAV4Toyota YarisToyota Corolla
Rhode IslandToyota RAV4Honda CR-VFord F-Series
South CarolinaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
South DakotaFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
TennesseeFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
TexasFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
UtahFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
VermontFord F-SeriesToyota RAV4RAM 1500-3500
VirginiaFord F-SeriesToyota RAV4Honda CR-V
WashingtonToyota RAV4Ford F-SeriesRam 1500-3500
West VirginiaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRam 1500-3500
WisconsinFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRam 1500-3500
WyomingRam 1500-3500Ford F-SeriesChevrolet Silverado

The Ford F-Series was the clear leader in sales, primarily in the Midwest. With a top-selling spot in 60% of U.S. states, the F-Series was the best selling vehicle in America.

Combined with the Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500-3500 series, the big three American truck brands accounted for 73% of the top three selling vehicles across all American states and territories.

Japanese Automakers in the Mix

Though American manufacturers had the best selling cars in most states, they had some overseas competition.

Japanese manufacturers Toyota and Honda had the top-selling vehicle in 11 states (and D.C.). They primarily captured car sales along the coastlines, including in California, Florida, New York and Washington, some of the most populated states in the country.

America's Best Selling Vehicles (2020)Type# Times in Top 3
Ford F-SeriesTruck45
Ram 1500-3500Truck36
Chevrolet SilveradoTruck33
Toyota RAV4SUV18
Honda CR-VSUV10
Chevrolet EquinoxSUV2
Honda CivicCar2
Subaru ForesterSUV2
Toyota CamryCar2
Toyota CorollaCar2
Jeep CherokeeSUV1
Toyota 4RunnerSUV1
Toyota TacomaTruck1
Toyota YarisCar1

Despite many cars being available for sale in the U.S., only seven manufacturers made the top-selling vehicles list in 2020.

  • Ford
  • Ram
  • Chevrolet
  • Toyota
  • Honda
  • Subaru
  • Jeep

With the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic yet to be reflected in the sales, and electric vehicle manufacturers like Tesla on the rise, how will the best selling vehicles in America evolve?

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Technology

Ranked: Big Tech CEO Insider Trading During the First Half of 2021

Big Tech is worth trillions, but what are insiders doing with their stock? We breakdown Big Tech CEO insider trading during the first half of 2021.

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Big Tech CEO Insider Trading During The First Half of 2021

When CEOs of major companies are selling their shares, investors can’t help but notice.

After all, these decisions have a direct effect on the personal wealth of these insiders, which can say plenty about their convictions with respect to the future direction of the companies they run.

Considering that Big Tech stocks are some of the most popular holdings in today’s portfolios, and are backed by a collective $5.3 trillion in institutional investment, how do the CEOs of these organizations rank by their insider selling?

CEOStockShares Sold H1 2021Value of Shares ($M)
Jeff BezosAmazon (AMZN)2.0 million$6,600
Mark ZuckerbergFacebook (FB)7.1 million$2,200
Satya NadellaMicrosoft (MSFT)278,694
$65
Sundar PichaiGoogle (GOOGL)27,000$62
Tim CookApple (AAPL)0$0

Breaking Down Insider Trading, by CEO

Let’s dive into the insider trading activity of each Big Tech CEO:

Jeff Bezos

During the first half of 2021, Jeff Bezos sold 2 million shares of Amazon worth $6.6 billion.

This activity was spread across 15 different transactions, representing an average of $440 million per transaction. Altogether, this ranks him first by CEO insider selling, by total dollar proceeds. Bezos’s time as CEO of Amazon came to an end shortly after the half way mark for the year.

Mark Zuckerberg

In second place is Mark Zuckerberg, who has been significantly busier selling than the rest.

In the first half of 2021, he unloaded 7.1 million shares of Facebook onto the open market, worth $2.2 billion. What makes these transactions interesting is the sheer quantity of them, as he sold on 136 out of 180 days. On average, that’s $12 million worth of stock sold every day.

Zuckerberg’s record year of selling in 2018 resulted in over $5 billion worth of stock sold, but over 90% of his net worth still remains in the company.

Satya Nadella

Next is Satya Nadella, who sold 278,694 shares of Microsoft, worth $234 million. Despite this, the Microsoft CEO still holds an estimated 1.6 million shares, which is the largest of any insider.

Microsoft’s stock has been on a tear for a number of years now, and belongs to an elite trillion dollar club, which consists of only six public companies.

Sundar Pichai

Fourth on the list is Sundar Pichai who has been at the helm at Google for six years now. Since the start of 2021, he’s sold 27,000 shares through nine separate transactions, worth $62.5 million. However, Pichai still has an estimated 6,407 Class A and 114,861 Class C shares.

Google is closing in on a $2 trillion valuation and is the best performing Big Tech stock, with shares rising 60% year-to-date. Their market share growth from U.S. ad revenues is a large contributing factor.

Tim Cook

Last, is Tim Cook, who just surpassed a decade as Apple CEO.

During this time, shares have rallied over 1,000% and annual sales have gone from $100 billion to $347 billion. That said, Cook has sold 0 shares of Apple during the first half of 2021. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t sold shares elsewhere, though. Cook also sits on the board of directors for Nike, and has sold $6.9 million worth of shares this year.

Measuring Insider Selling

All things equal, it’s desirable for management to have skin in the game, and be invested alongside shareholders. It can also be seen as aligning long-term interests.

A good measure of insider selling activity is in relation to the existing stake in the company. For example, selling $6.6 billion worth of shares may sound like a lot, but when there are 51.7 million Amazon shares remaining for Jeff Bezos, it actually represents a small portion and is probably not cause for panic.

If, however, executives are disclosing large transactions relative to their total stakes, it might be worth digging deeper.

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