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European Goods Market Integration in the Very Long Run: From the Black Death to the First World War

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  • Federico, Giovanni
  • Schulze, Max-Stephan
  • Volckart, Oliver

Abstract

This paper examines price convergence and changes in the efficiency of wheat markets, covering the period from the mid-fourteenth to the early twentieth century and most of Europe. The analysis is based on a new data set of prices from almost 600 markets. Unlike previous research, we find that convergence was a predominantly pre-modern phenomenon. It started in the late fifteenth century, advanced rapidly until the beginning of the seventeenth century when it temporarily stalled, resumed after the Thirty Years’ War, and accelerated after the Napoleonic Wars in response to trade liberalization. From the late 1840s, convergence petered out and turned into divergence after 1875 as policy decisions dominated technological change. Our results point to the ‘Little Divergence’ between North-Western Europe and the rest of the continent as starting about 1600. Long-term improvements in market efficiency began in the early sixteenth century, with advances over time being as uneven as in price convergence. We trace this to differential institutional change and the non-synchronous spread of modern media and systems of information transmission that affected the ability of merchants to react to news.

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  • Federico, Giovanni & Schulze, Max-Stephan & Volckart, Oliver, 2021. "European Goods Market Integration in the Very Long Run: From the Black Death to the First World War," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 81(1), pages 276-308, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:81:y:2021:i:1:p:276-308_8
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    Cited by:

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    2. Greif, Gavin, 2022. "Merchants, proto-firms, and the German industrialization: the commercial determinants of nineteenth century town growth," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 113346, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Matthias Morys, 2022. "Has Eastern Europe Always Lagged Behind the West? Historical Evidence from Pre‐1870," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 68(S1), pages 3-21, April.
    4. Chilosi, David & Schulze, Max-Stephan & Volckart, Oliver, 2016. "Benefits of empire? Capital market integration north and south of the Alps, 1350-1800," Economic History Working Papers 65346, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    5. John E. Murray & Javier Silvestre, 2020. "Integration in European coal markets, 1833–1913," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 73(3), pages 668-702, August.
    6. Broadberry, Stephen & Gardner, Leigh, 2015. "Economic Development In Africa And Europe : Reciprocal Comparisons," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 232, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    7. Volckart, Oliver, 2022. "How successful was Germany's first common currency? A new look at the imperial monetary union of 1559," Economic History Working Papers 115007, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    8. Yao Chen & Nuno Palma & Felix Ward, 2022. "Goldilocks: American precious metals and the Rise of the West," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 22-063/VI, Tinbergen Institute.
    9. Daniel Cassidy & Nick Hanley, 2020. "Regional market integration and the emergence of a Scottish national grain market," Working Papers 0200, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    10. Kouli, Yaman & König, Jörg, 2021. "Measuring European economic integration 1880 - 1913: A new approach," DICE Discussion Papers 374, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N14 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N53 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N54 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N73 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N74 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N90 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - General, International, or Comparative

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