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Prices during the Great Depression: Was the Deflation of 1930-1932 Really Unanticipated?


  • Cecchetti, Stephen G


This paper examines inflationary expectations in order to investigate whether the deflation of 1930-32 could have been anticipated. The major conclusion is that beginning in late 1930, and possibly as early as late 1929, deflation could have been anticipated at horizons of three-six months. This implies, in turn, that short-run ex ante real interest rates were very high during the initial phases of the Great Depression. These results provide further support for the proposition that monetary contraction was the driving force behind the economic decline. Copyright 1992 by American Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Cecchetti, Stephen G, 1992. "Prices during the Great Depression: Was the Deflation of 1930-1932 Really Unanticipated?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 141-156, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:82:y:1992:i:1:p:141-56

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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Inflation Expectations: How Credibility Pays Off
      by Steve Cecchetti and Kim Schoenholtz in Money, Banking and Financial Markets on 2014-07-31 17:19:31
    2. Why a gold standard is a very bad idea
      by Steve Cecchetti and Kim Schoenholtz in Money, Banking and Financial Markets on 2016-12-19 19:51:14
    3. Protecting the Federal Reserve
      by Steve Cecchetti and Kim Schoenholtz in Money, Banking and Financial Markets on 2019-07-08 11:19:34


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Martin Ellison & Sang Seok Lee & Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke, 2020. "The Ends of 30 Big Depressions," NBER Working Papers 27586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Gauti B. Eggertsson, 2012. "Was the New Deal Contractionary?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 524-555, February.
    3. Bill Dorval & Gregor W. Smith, 2015. "Interwar Inflation, Unexpected Inflation, and Output Growth," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 47(8), pages 1599-1615, December.
    4. Gregor W. Smith, 2006. "The spectre of deflation: a review of empirical evidence," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 39(4), pages 1041-1072, November.
    5. Lukáš Kovanda & Martin Komrska, 2017. "Deflace, odklad spotřeby a hospodářské krize: rétorika centrálních bank vs. ekonomická literatura [Deflation and Economic Crisis: Central Banks' Rhetoric vs. Economic Literature]," Politická ekonomie, Prague University of Economics and Business, vol. 2017(3), pages 351-369.
    6. Bordo, Michael D. & Schwartz, Anna J., 1999. "Monetary policy regimes and economic performance: The historical record," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.),Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 3, pages 149-234, Elsevier.
    7. Gauti B. Eggertsson, 2008. "Great Expectations and the End of the Depression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1476-1516, September.
    8. Weber Ernst Juerg, 2010. "The Role of the Real Interest Rate in U.S. Macroeconomic History," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-26, April.
    9. Binder, Carola Conces, 2016. "Estimation of historical inflation expectations," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 1-31.
    10. Joshua K. Hausman & Johannes F. Wieland, 2014. "Abenomics: Preliminary Analysis and Outlook," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 48(1 (Spring), pages 1-76.
    11. Christian Bauer & Sebastian Weber, 2016. "The Efficiency of Monetary Policy when Guiding Inflation Expectations," Research Papers in Economics 2016-14, University of Trier, Department of Economics.
    12. Haelim Anderson & Daniel Barth & Dong Beom Choi, 2018. "Reducing moral hazard at the expense of market discipline: the effectiveness of double liability before and during the Great Depression," Staff Reports 869, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    13. Rockoff, Hugh & White, Eugene N., 2012. "Monetary Regimes and Policy on a Global Scale: The Oeuvre of Michael D. Bordo," MPRA Paper 49672, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised May 2013.
    14. Taylor, Jason E. & Neumann, Todd C., 2016. "Recovery Spring, Faltering Fall: March to November 1933," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 54-67.
    15. Gabriel Mathy & Herman Stekler, 2018. "Was the deflation of the depression anticipated? An inference using real-time data," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(2), pages 117-125, April.
    16. Saleuddin, Rasheed & Coffman, D’Maris, 2018. "Can inflation expectations be measured using commodity futures prices?," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 37-48.
    17. Mathy, Gabriel & Stekler, Herman, 2017. "Expectations and forecasting during the Great Depression: Real-time evidence from the business press," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 1-15.
    18. Gimeno, Ricardo & Ibáñez, Alfredo, 2018. "The eurozone (expected) inflation: An option's eyes view," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 70-92.
    19. Douglas A. Irwin, 2014. "Who Anticipated the Great Depression? Gustav Cassel versus Keynes and Hayek on the Interwar Gold Standard," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 46(1), pages 199-227, February.
    20. Shibamoto, Masahiko & Shizume, Masato, 2014. "Exchange rate adjustment, monetary policy and fiscal stimulus in Japan's escape from the Great Depression," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 1-18.
    21. Eggertsson, Gauti B. & Pugsley, Benjamin, 2006. "The mistake of 1931: A general equilibrium analysis," CFS Working Paper Series 2007/06, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).

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