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The Prewar Business Cycle Reconsidered: New Estimates of Gross National Product, 1869-1908


  • Romer, Christina D


Traditional estimates of prewar gross national product (GNP) exaggerate the size of cycles because they are based on the assumption that GNP moves approximately one for one with commodity output valued in producer prices. This paper derives new estimates of GNP for 1869-1908 using an estimate of the actual relationship between GNP and commodity output. This estimated relationship is allowed to be time-varying and is derived from a regression covering the periods 1909-28 and 1947-85. The new estimates of GNP indicate that there has been much less stabilization between the prewar and postwar eras than is conventionally believed. Copyright 1989 by University of Chicago Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Romer, Christina D, 1989. "The Prewar Business Cycle Reconsidered: New Estimates of Gross National Product, 1869-1908," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(1), pages 1-37, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:97:y:1989:i:1:p:1-37

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. J. Bradford DeLong & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "The Changing Cyclical Variability of Economic Activity in the United States," NBER Chapters,in: The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change, pages 679-734 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Simon Kuznets & Elizabeth Jenks, 1961. "Capital in the American Economy: Its Formation and Financing," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kuzn61-1, January.
    3. Martin Neil Baily, 1978. "Stabilization Policy and Private Economic Behavior," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 9(1), pages 11-60.
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