Finance and Economics
What does 'RPI' mean, and where can I find it?
RPI stands for Retail Price Index (or 'consumer price index'). It is the official UK cost of living index. Definitions are in the subject dictionaries for finance (shelf number 332.03). Comprehensive overviews can be found in the Department of Employment's Short Guide to the Retail Prices Index that can be found at 310.01 on Floor 1A of the Library, together with the Office for National Statistics, Retail Prices Index Technical Manual.
For actual RPI figures visit the website British Retail Prices Index from 1915 or the publication Retail Prices 1914-1990 that can be found at 310.16 in the statistics area on Floor 1A of the Library.
What does GDP mean, and where can I find it?
GDP stands for Gross Domestic Product and it tries to capture the state of the economy in one number. If GDP goes up, the economy is growing; if it goes down, the economy is shrinking. Definitions can be found in the subject dictionaries for economics (shelf number 330.03). GDP for most countries can be found in the World Bank Data such as The Little Data Book. Online, look at the World Bank site, the United Nations Statistics Division, or, for the UK, UK National Statistics.
Where can I find historical share prices, for example of Marks & Spencer for 15th August 1997?
Historical share prices for UK companies may be found in a number of places. Yahoo! Finance includes historical share prices for all listed companies going back in excess of 5 years. At the moment this information is free. From mid-2000 they are available in FAME and can also be found in the paper copies of the FT. Other services, such as Hemscott's Company Fundamentals provide graphical representation of share prices for the last 5 years, while the London Stock Exchange covers the last year.
Where can I find exchange rates?
For EMS (European Currency System) currency rates, as well as foreign exchange cross rates, try the Financial Times, on Floor 2A of the Library, (see the section Companies & Markets, and then the page Currencies & Money).
For historical exchange rates (both annual and per quarter) for sterling (£) against the major currencies consult Economic Trends from the Office for National Statistics and look at the section Selected Financial Statistics, and then Sterling Exchange Rates and UK Official Reserves.
For tables of historical nominal exchange rates (vis-a-vis the US dollar $) on an annual basis, plus effective exchange rates, see OECD Economic Outlook (go to the Statistical Annex) or look at the paper copy in the Library at 310.16 in the Statistics section on Floor 1A..
For relevant internet sites go to the Library's subject page for Exchange Rates.
Where can I find the accounts for a company?
The extent of publicly available information depends on the type of company you are researching: All companies must file an annual financial statement and return with Companies House, but the accounts of small and medium sized limited companies may be abridged and private companies are not required legally to make their financial status public. For private companies whose accounts are unavailable, you may need to decide whether to contact the company direct.
Recent or interim accounts may be available at the company's website. Based on the FTSE 250 companies, there are 10 years of UK and overseas annual reports (paper copies) on Floor 1A of the Library. To search this collection, search the Annual Reports Collection on the Library catalogue.
Year-end figures for up to 10 years of approx. 7.5 million public and private British and Irish companies can be found on FAME (Financial Analysis Made Easy). Nearly 70,000 international listed and recently de-listed companies can be found on OSIRIS.
Where can I find out how financial ratios are calculated?
There are both printed and electronic sources to consult. There are books in the Accountancy section (657) on Floor 1A of the Library that will explain calculations for financial data, for example, Michael Jones' Accounting or McLaney and Atrill's Accounting: An Introduction.
A list of ratio formulae used by the FAME database is available once logged in: select HELP- FAME Help - Index - Formulae of Accounts, Ratios and Trends.
Where can I find accounting standards?
UK and international accounting standards are kept in the Library on Floor 1A at shelf mark 657.26.
Where can I find a chronological listing of international/UK events concerning the economy?
The educational website Biz/ed lists key facts relating to the economy for the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, and chronologies for each year from 1997.
As a postgraduate, how can I find out the accounting/finance research interests of academics UK-wide?
Try the British Accounting Review Research Register which is available online from the 2004 edition.
It is published in association with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. This includes the lecturing specialisms, research interests and publication lists of over 1,500 academic staff members in Accounting and Finance throughout the British Isles, across 110 universities and colleges.