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NBER Working Papers and Publications
|January 2016||America's First Great Moderation|
with Marc D. Weidenmier: w21856
We identify America’s First Great Moderation, a recession-free 16-year period from 1841 until 1856, that represents the longest economic expansion in U.S. history. Occurring in the wake of the debt-deleveraging cycle of the late 1830s, this “take-off” period’s high rates of economic growth and relatively-low volatility enabled the U.S. economy to escape downturns despite the absence of a central bank. Using new high frequency data on industrial production, we show that America’s First Great Moderation was primarily driven by a boom in transportation-goods investment, attributable to both the wider adoption of steam railroads and river boats and the high expected returns for massive wooden clipper ships following the discovery of gold in California. We do not find evidence that agriculture ...
|September 2007||The Antebellum U.S. Iron Industry: Domestic Production and Foreign Competition|
with Douglas A. Irwin: w13451
This paper presents new annual estimates of U.S. production of pig iron and imports of pig iron products dating back to 1827. These estimates are used to assess the vulnerability of the antebellum iron industry to foreign competition and the role of the tariff in fostering the industry's early development. Domestic pig iron production is found to be highly sensitive to changes in import prices. Although import price fluctuations had a much greater impact on U.S. production than changes in import duties, our estimates suggest that the tariff permitted domestic output to be about thirty to forty percent larger than it would have been without protection.
Published: Davis, Joseph H. & Irwin, Douglas A., 2008. "The antebellum U.S. iron industry: Domestic production and foreign competition," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 254-269, July. citation courtesy of
|February 2005||An Improved Annual Chronology of U.S. Business Cycles since the 1790's|
The NBER's pre-WWI chronology of annual peaks and troughs has the remarkable implication that the U.S. economy spent nearly every other year in recession, although previous research has argued that the post-Civil War dates are flawed. This paper extends that research by redating annual peaks and troughs for the entire 1796-1914 period using a single metric: Davis' (2004) annual industrial production index. The new pre-WWI chronology alters more than 40% of the peak and troughs, and removes cycles long considered the most questionable. An important implication of the new chronology is the lack of discernible differences in the frequency and duration of industrial cycles among the pre-Civil War, Civil War to WWI, and post-WWII periods. Of course, my comparison between pre-WWI and post-WWII c...
Published: Davis, Joseph H. "An Improved Annual Chronology Of US Business Cycles Since The 1790s," Journal of Economic History, 2006, v66(1,Mar), 103-121.
|September 2003||Trade Disruptions and America's Early Industrialization|
with Douglas A. Irwin: w9944
Between 1807 and 1815, U.S. imports of manufactured goods were severely cut by Jefferson's trade embargo, subsequent non-importation measures, and the War of 1812. These disruptions are commonly believed to have spurred early U.S. industrialization by promoting the growth of nascent domestic manufacturers. This paper uses a newly available series on U.S. industrial production to investigate how this protection from foreign competition affected domestic manufacturing. On balance, the trade disruptions did not decisively accelerate U.S. industrialization as trend growth in industrial production was little changed over this period. However, the disruptions may have played a limited role in shifting resources from trade-dependent industries (such as shipbuilding) to domestic infant industries...