Yale School of Management

Yale’s Three-Hundred-Year-Old Bond Is a YouTube Hit

Among the movie trailers, music videos, and late-night clips on YouTube’s “Trending” page this week was a piece of financial history. For his series “Things You Might Not Know,” British TV and radio personality Tom Scott talked with K. Geert Rouwenhorst, the Robert B. and Candice J. Haas Professor of Corporate Finance, about a 367-year-old bond in Yale’s collection that is still paying interest.

The bond, issued in 1648 by the Water Board of Lekdijk Bovendams to finance the repair of a dike, is in the collection of Yale Collection of Historical Securities, a joint effort of Yale SOM’s International Center for Finance (ICF) and Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. It pays roughly 11 euros a year. 

The bond’s historical significance—it is one of the oldest securities in the world that has paid interest continuously—far outstrips that modest payout, of course. 

“You know, the value of this bond obviously is in the fact that it’s live,” Rouwenhorst told Scott. “It’s probably just as exciting for [the water board] as it is for us to be able to present the bond and have an opportunity to pay interest.”

Related: View the Hoogheemraadschap Lekdijk Bovendams (Dutch Water Board Bond) on the ICF’s Origins of Value website.