NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Harvests and Business Cycles in Nineteenth-Century America

Joseph H. Davis, Christopher Hanes, Paul W. Rhode

NBER Working Paper No. 14686
Issued in January 2009
NBER Program(s):   DAE

Most major American industrial business cycles from around 1880 to the First World War were caused by fluctuations in the size of the cotton harvest due to economically exogenous factors such as weather. Wheat and corn harvests did not affect industrial production; nor did the cotton harvest before the late 1870s. The unique effect of the cotton harvest in this period can be explained as an essentially monetary phenomenon, the result of interactions between harvests, international gold flows and high-powered money demand under America's gold-standard regime of 1879-1914.

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Published: Joseph H. Davis & Christopher Hanes & Paul W. Rhode, 2009. "Harvests and Business Cycles in Nineteenth-Century America," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1675-1727, November.

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