This month is the kick-off for the European infrastructure project EURHISFIRM – European Historic Firm Data. The project will be funded by the Horizon 2020 program of the European Union with about 3.4 million euros over an initial time period of three years. The project’s objective is to produce a design study that serves as basis for the setup of a comprehensive historical database for European finance and firm data. The project consortium consists of eleven partners from seven European countries. The coordinator representing Goethe University and SAFE in the project is Wolfgang König, Professor of Information Systems and Executive Director of the House of Finance, who is also a member of the project’s executive committee. The Research Center SAFE has significantly contributed to obtaining the funding.
The consortium plans to digitalize firm-level data from 1815 onwards and to make these data available for research purposes in a machine-readable format. Besides a quality-assured entry of comprehensive data sets a central aspect in this regard is the harmonization of different data sources and formats across European countries. The focus of the project is on financial data (e.g. stock prices and balance sheet data), firm data (such as legal structure, management, governance), and geographical data (e.g. location of firms’ headquarters and subsidiaries). This novel database shall allow, for the first time, to conduct historical cross-country research based on comprehensive European data, so that questions about the effects of economic, political, and regulatory events on the real economy in Europe can be analyzed from a historical perspective. Currently, the available data on this topic are uncoordinated and incomplete. Harmonized European firm data for academic purposes are only available from 1990 onwards. This is one of the main reasons why empirical financial research is focusing today almost exclusively on US data. Policy recommendations derived from such research is mostly of limited relevance for Europe.
Besides Wolfgang König, the project consortium includes: Angelo Riva (Ecole d’Economie de Paris – head of the consortium), Jan Annaert (Universiteit Antwerpen), Stefano Battilossi (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid), Bertrand Couäsnon (Institut Nationale des Sciences Appliquées de Rennes), Abe de Jong (Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam), Krzysztof Jajuga (Uniwersytet Ekonomiczny we Wrocławiu), Joost Jonker (Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen), Alexia Katsanidou (GESIS – Leibniz-Institut für Sozialwissenschaften), Thierry Paquet (Université de Rouen Normandie), and John Turner (Queen‘s University of Belfast).
From Goethe University there are also involved Stephanie Collet, Head of the Data Center of the Research Center SAFE, Alexander Peukert, Professor of Civil Law and Commercial Law, Uwe Risch, Head of the Verbundzentrale of HeBIS (Hessisches BibliotheksInformationsSystem) at the Goethe University Library, and Helmut Siekmann, Professor of Money, Currency and Central Bank Law.