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Not Guilty? Agriculture in the 1920s and the Great Depression


Agricultural distress in the 1920s is routinely quoted among the causes of the Great Depression. This paper challenges the conventional wisdom. World agriculture was not plagued by overproduction and falling terms of trade. The indebtedness of American farmers, a legacy of the boom years 1919-1921, did jeopardize the rural banks, but the relation between their crises, the banking panic of 1930 and the Great Depression is tenuous at best.

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Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal The Journal of Economic History.

Volume (Year): 65 (2005)
Issue (Month): 04 (December)
Pages: 949-976

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Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:65:y:2005:i:04:p:949-976_00
Contact details of provider: Postal: Cambridge University Press, UPH, Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge CB2 8BS UK
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  1. Nathan S. Balke & Robert J. Gordon, 1988. "The Estimation of Prewar GNP: Methodology and New Evidence," NBER Working Papers 2674, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Grilli, Enzo R & Yang, Maw Cheng, 1988. "Primary Commodity Prices, Manufactured Goods Prices, and the Terms of Trade of Developing Countries: What the Long Run Shows," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 2(1), pages 1-47, January.
  3. Holt, Charles F., 1977. "Who benefited from the prosperity of the twenties?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 277-289, July.
  4. Timothy Kehoe & Edward Prescott, 2002. "Data Appendix to Great Depressions of the Twentieth Century," Technical Appendices kehoe02, Review of Economic Dynamics.
  5. Michael D. Bordo & Christopher J. Erceg & Charles L. Evans, 1997. "Money, Sticky Wages, and the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 6071, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Timothy J. Kehoe & Edward C. Prescott(), 2007. "Great depressions of the twentieth century," Monograph, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, number 2007gdott.
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