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Commodity Prices over Two Centuries: Trends, Volatility, and Impact

Author

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  • Jeffrey G. Williamson

    () (Department of Economics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
    Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706)

Abstract

Does trade raise growth rates of commodity exporters less than those of industrial goods exporters? Do industrial countries gain more from trade? Do world trade booms over the past two centuries help account for the widening gap between rich and poor countries because of some asymmetric growth impact? These old questions can now be answered with hard evidence, and the answer is yes to all three. World trade booms have always been associated with commodity price booms and thus with terms-of-trade improvements favoring the commodity exporter. But whereas commodity exporters' GDP levels increased—that is, they gained from trade—their growth rates either did not increase or increased by much less than did rates of their industrial trading partners. This survey reports these results for the period 1800–1939, but it also shows how this so-called resource curse history has changed in recent decades.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2012. "Commodity Prices over Two Centuries: Trends, Volatility, and Impact," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 185-206, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:anr:reseco:v:4:y:2012:p:185-206
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    File URL: http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-resource-110811-114502
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Zissimos, Ben, 2017. "A theory of trade policy under dictatorship and democratization," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 85-101.
    2. Bassino, Jean-Pascal & Williamson, Jeffrey G, 2015. "From Commodity Booms to Economic Miracles: Why Southeast Asian Industry Lagged Behind," CEPR Discussion Papers 10611, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Luis Bértola, 2015. "Has Latin America changed tracks? Catching up: now and then. An essay," Documentos de trabajo 40, Programa de Historia Económica, FCS, Udelar.
    4. Yamada, Hiroshi & Yoon, Gawon, 2014. "When Grilli and Yang meet Prebisch and Singer: Piecewise linear trends in primary commodity prices," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 193-207.
    5. Chilosi, David & Federico, Giovanni, 2015. "Early globalizations: The integration of Asia in the world economy, 1800–1938," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 1-18.
    6. Kym Anderson & Anna Strutt, 2014. "Emerging economies, productivity growth and trade with resource-rich economies by 2030," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 58(4), pages 590-606, October.
    7. Richard Pomfret & Kym Anderson, 2014. "Globalisation and Agricultural Trade," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 54(3), pages 285-306, November.
    8. Laura Panza & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2017. "Australian Squatters, Convicts, and Capitalists: Dividing Up a Fast-Growing Frontier Pie 1821-1871," CEH Discussion Papers 02, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    growth; trade; resource curse; history;

    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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