Over 200 Years of U.S. Municipal Bond History
Our modern society shares few characteristics with the 1800s. In the last two centuries, styles have changed, laws have evolved, and cities look entirely different. However, one thing that has prevailed is the way state and local governments finance public projects.
Far from a new invention, municipal bonds have been shaping U.S. communities for more than 200 years. In today’s infographic from New York Life Investments, we take a look back at their long history.
Early Beginnings – 1800s
1812: First Official Issue
New York City issues a general obligation bond for a canal.
1817-1825: Facilitating Economic Growth
A few years later, 42 separate bond issues help fund the successful Erie Canal project.
1843: Growing Popularity
Municipal debt sits at about $25 million. Over the next two decades, this total increases exponentially to fund urban improvement and free public education.
Circa 1865: Railroad Expansion
For a few years after the American Civil War, a great deal of debt is issued to build railroads.
1873: The Panic of 1873
Excessive investment in railroads, real estate, and nonessential services leads to the downfall of the large bank Jay Cooke and Co., smaller firms, and the stock market. Many state and local governments default, temporarily halting municipal financing.
The 20th Century
1913: Exception Granted
U.S. Congress introduces a permanent federal income tax, and specifically excludes municipal bond income from taxation.
Note: today, a portion of municipal bonds are taxable.
1930: Expansion in the West
In the midst of the Great Depression, voters approve $35 million in funding to build the Golden Gate Bridge.
1939-1945: Diverted Resources
With financial resources directed to the military in WWII, municipal debt falls. By 1945, total debt sits at less than $20 billion.
1960: Exponential Growth
Only 25 years later, outstanding public debt—the total amount owed to creditors—more than triples to $66 billion.
1971: Investor Protection
Municipal bond insurance is introduced. That same year, insured municipal bonds finance the construction of hospital facilities in Alaska—bringing essential services and investment opportunities to a remote area.
1975: Marketplace Stewardship
Bringing further reassurance to the municipal bond market, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) is introduced to establish regulations for dealers, and for advisors at a later date.
1981: Continued Growth
Outstanding public debt reaches $361 billion.
2009-2010: Economic Recovery
More than $181 billion of federally-subsidized Build America Bonds are issued by state and local governments to help stimulate the economy after the financial crisis.
2016-2018: Investor Dollars at Work
In recent years, state and local debt has financed many important projects across the country.
- 2016: The New York State Thruway Authority issues $850 million in bonds to finance a portion of the new NY Bridge Project.
- 2017: California’s Department of Water Resources issues $428 million in bonds for the maintenance and construction of its water management infrastructure.
- 2018: The Denver International Airport issues $2.5B in bonds to finance capital improvements, the largest airport revenue bond in municipal bond history.
2018: Helping People and the Planet
Sustainable applications for municipal bonds continue to grow, with Californian voters approving $2 billion in financing for supportive housing. In addition, state and local governments issue $4.9 billion in U.S. municipal green bonds.
Today: A Sizable Investment Opportunity
As financing spans the nation, the U.S. municipal bond market is both large and active:
- $3.8 trillion capital market
- One million outstanding securities
- $11.6 billion in par traded per/day
- 40,000 daily trades
Not only that, municipals have offered a compelling after-tax yield. For example, high yield municipals offered 121% of the after-tax yield of high yield corporates as of September 30, 2019.
The Foundation of Infrastructure
For over 200 years, municipal bonds have provided critical financing to build hospitals, schools, highways, airports, and more. Today, two out of three infrastructure projects in the U.S. are financed by municipal bonds.
Additionally, municipals have weathered almost every economic storm, providing much-needed capital stimulus during some of the deepest U.S. recessions. As history continues to unfold, municipals hold great potential for issuers, communities, and investors.
Where Are the Oldest Companies in Existence?
Which companies have stood the test of time? This detailed map highlights the oldest company in every country that is still in business.
Where Are the Oldest Companies in Existence?
View the high resolution version of this infographic by clicking here.
In just a few decades, it’s possible that some of today’s most recognized companies may no longer be household names.
Corporate longevity, or the average lifespan of a company, has been shrinking dramatically.
In the 1960s, a typical S&P 500 company was projected to last for more than 60 years. However, with the rapidly transforming business landscape today, it’s down to just 18 years.
The Companies With the Strongest Staying Power
Even with companies skewing younger, there are always exceptions to the rule.
Luckily, many companies around the world have stood the test of time, and today’s detailed map from Business Financing highlights the oldest company in existence in each country.
For centuries, here are the world’s oldest corporations which have made their mark:
|578||Kongō Gumi Co., Ltd.||Japan||Construction|
|803||St. Peter Stifts Kulinarium||Austria||Service Industry (Restaurant)|
|862||Staffelter Hof||Germany||Distillers, Vintners, & Breweries (Winery)|
|864||Monnaie de Paris||France||Manufacturing & Production (Mint)|
|886||The Royal Mint||England||Manufacturing & Production (Mint)|
|900||Sean’s Bar||Ireland||Service Industry (Pub)|
|1040||Pontificia Fonderia Marinelli||Italy||Manufacturing & Production (Bell foundry)|
|1074||Affligem Brewery||Belgium||Distillers, Vintners, & Breweries|
|1135||Munke Mølle||Denmark||Manufacturing & Production (Flour Mill)|
|1153||Ma Yu Ching’s Bucket Chicken House||China||Service Industry (Restaurant)|
Whether they were born out of necessity to support a rapidly growing population—requiring new infrastructure and more money circulation—or simply to satisfy peoples’ thirst for alcohol or hunger for fried chicken, these companies continue to play a lasting role.
The Oldest Company in Every Country, by Region
Let’s dive into the regional maps, which paint a different picture for each continent.
In the following maps, countries are color-coded based on the major industry that the oldest company falls under:
- Primary: Natural resources
- Secondary: Manufacturing and processing
- Tertiary: Services and distribution
- Quaternary: Knowledge and information
Notes on Methodology:
This research considers both state-run and independent businesses in their definitions. For countries where data was hard to pin down, they have been grayed out.
As well, since many countries have a relatively new inception, present-day names and borders have been used. The map does not factor in older companies that are no longer in operation, or if it was unclear whether they were still open.
Click here to explore the full research methodology.
Mexico’s La Casa de Moneda de México (founded 1534) is the oldest company across North America, and the first mint of America. Owned by the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, it was where the famous ‘pieces of eight’, or Spanish dollars were created.
In the U.S., the Shirley Plantation in Virginia is an ongoing reminder of the history of slavery. First founded in 1613, business actually began in 1638—and as many as 90 slaves were under indentured labor on the estate growing tobacco.
Further north, Canada’s Hudson’s Bay (founded 1670) was at the helm of the fur trade between European settlers and First Nations tribes—the two parties agreed on beaver pelts as a common, valuable trade standard.
Three of the five oldest companies in South America are mints—specifically in Brazil, Colombia, and Peru.
The oldest of these mints, Casa Nacional de Moneda in Peru, was built on order from Spain and established in 1565. After the great influx of newly-mined silver from America to Europe, the Spanish crown outlined to King Felipe II that building a mint would give the colony economic benefits and more control.
In total, 15 of Europe’s oldest companies are related to the food and beverage industries, from distilleries, vintners (winemaking), and breweries alongside restaurants and pubs. Austria’s St. Peter Stifts Kulinarium (founded in 803) is Europe’s oldest restaurant, located inside the St. Peter’s Abbey monastery.
Although Germany is famously known for its beer culture, its oldest company is in fact the Staffelter Hof Winery (founded in 862). Today, Germany is still a top wine country, with the industry generating up to $17 billion in revenue per year.
Asia has six oldest companies in the banking and finance category, as well as another six in the aviation and transport sector. The continent is also home to two of the world’s oldest companies, located in Japan and China.
The Japanese temple and shrine construction company, Kongō Gumi Co., Ltd. (founded in 578) has weathered a few storms over the millennia, from nuclear bombs to financial crises. In 2006, it was bought by the construction conglomerate, Takamatsu Construction Group Co., and continues to operate today.
In neighboring China, Ma Yu Ching’s Bucket Chicken House has endured dynasties of change as well. The company’s simple premise has come a long way, and it was named a cultural heritage in the country’s Henan Province.
Africa’s oldest companies are another vestige of the colonial legacy, with 11 transport companies—airlines, ports and shipping, and railways—and 9 postal services.
In fact, Cape Verde’s Correios de Cabo Verde (postal service, founded in 1849) and the DRC’s Société nationale des Chemins de fer du Congo (national railway company, founded in 1889) still go by their Portuguese and French names respectively.
Banking is another one of the oldest industries, with 17 companies across Africa. Zimbabwe’s Standard Chartered branch has been around since 1892, a subsidiary of its London-based parent company.
Australia officially became a country on January 1st, 1901—but its oldest company, the Australia Post (founded in 1809) precedes this by almost a century.
Interestingly, just one more old company could be located for this region, which is the Bank of New Zealand—one of the country’s Big Four banks.
All in all, these oldest companies paint a historical picture of the major industries which have shaped entire regions.
Did you recognize any on the list?
Internet Browser Market Share (1996–2019)
This animation provides a nostalgic look back at the market share of various web browsers, from Netscape Navigator to Google Chrome.
Internet Browser Market Share (1996–2019)
Web browsers are a ubiquitous part of the internet experience and one of the most commonly used digital tools of the modern era.
Since the first rudimentary interfaces were created in the 1990s, a number of browsers have entered the market, with a select few achieving market dominance over our access to web content.
Today’s bar chart race video, by the YouTube channel Data is Beautiful, is a nostalgic look back at how people used to access the internet, from Mosaic to Chrome.
The First Wave of Browsers
Simply put, web browsers are the software applications that act as our portal to the internet. Today, aside from the occasional pop-up box, we barely notice them. In the early ’90s though, when the web was in its infancy, the crude, boxy interfaces were a revolutionary step in making the internet usable to people with access to a computer.
The first step in this journey came in 1990, when the legendary Tim Berners-Lee developed the first-ever web browser called “WorldWideWeb” – later renamed Nexus. Nexus was a graphical user interface (GUI) that allowed users to view text on web pages. Images were still beyond reach, but since most connections were dial-up, that wasn’t much of a limitation at the time.
The precurser to the modern browser was Mosaic, originally developed as a temporary project by the the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (UIUC) and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA).
After his graduation from UIUC in 1993, Marc Andreessen teamed up with Jim Clark, the founder of Silicon Graphics, to produce a commercial version of the browser. The resulting software, Netscape Navigator, became the first widely used browser, moving the internet from an abstract concept to a network that was accessible to everyday people. The company soon staged a wildly popular IPO, which saw the 16-month-old startup reach a valuation of nearly $3 billion.
Naturally, the fanfare surrounding Netscape had captured Microsoft’s attention. Immediately after Netscape’s IPO, the first version of Internet Explorer (building off a licensed version of Mozilla) was released. The browser wars had begun.
The Internet Explorer Era
In 1995, Bill Gates was looking to capitalize on the “Internet Tidal Wave”, and was up to the challenge of eating into Netscape’s market share, which stood at about 90%.
A new competitor “born” on the Internet is Netscape. We have to match and beat their offerings…
– Bill Gates
Ultimately, Netscape was no match for Internet Explorer (IE) once it was bundled with the Windows operating system. By the dawn of the new millennium (beware Y2K!) the situation had reversed, with IE capturing over 75% of the browser market share.
With Netscape mostly out of the picture, IE had a stranglehold on the market. In fact, Microsoft’s position was so comfortable that after IE6 was released 2001, the next full version wouldn’t ship until 2006.
It was during this time that a new player came onto the scene. Mozilla Firefox was officially launched in 2004, seeing over 60 million downloads within its first nine months. For the first time in years, Microsoft began to feel the heat of competition.
Goliath and Goliath
Despite the growing popularity for Mozilla Firefox, it was a browser backed by another tech giant that would eventually lead to IE’s downfall – Google Chrome.
Chrome was pitched to the public in 2008 as “a fresh take on the browser”. While Microsoft struggled with open web standards, Chrome’s source code was openly available through Google’s Chromium project.
By 2011, Firefox and Chrome had eroded IE’s market share to below 50%, and a year later, Chrome would end Internet Explorer’s 14-year reign as the world’s top internet browser.
Today, the browser market has come full circle. Chrome has now become the dominant browser on the market, while competitors fight to increase their single-digit market shares. IE has dropped to fourth place.
Looking Back at the Peaks
In the 25 years since Netscape gave people access to the internet, a few browsers have had their moment in the sun. Here are the years of peak market share for all the major browsers:
|Browser||Peak Market Share||Peak Year|
Once a browser becomes popular, it can be incredibly difficult to carve into its market share. Even during the height of the iPhone era, Apple’s browser, Safari, was only able to manage a 7% market share.
For now, it looks like Chrome will continue to be the world’s preferred method of experiencing the internet. If Chrome’s current trajectory continues, it could become the third major browser to surpass a 90% market share.
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