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Droughts, Floods and Financial Distress in the United States

In: The Economics of Climate Change: Adaptations Past and Present

Author

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  • John Landon-Lane
  • Hugh Rockoff
  • Richard H. Steckel

Abstract

The relationships among the weather, agricultural markets, and financial markets have long been of interest to economic historians, but relatively little empirical work has been done. We push this literature forward by using modern drought indexes, which are available in detail over a wide area and for long periods of time to perform a battery of tests on the relationship between these indexes and sensitive indicators of financial stress. The drought indexes were devised by climate historians from instrument records and tree rings, and because they are unfamiliar to most economic historians and economists, we briefly describe the methodology. The financial literature in the area can be traced to William Stanley Jevons, who connected his sun spot theory to rainfall patterns. The Dust bowl of the 1930s brought the climate-finance link to the attention of the general public. Here we assemble new evidence to test various hypotheses involving the impact of extreme swings in moisture on financial stress.
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Suggested Citation

  • John Landon-Lane & Hugh Rockoff & Richard H. Steckel, 2011. "Droughts, Floods and Financial Distress in the United States," NBER Chapters,in: The Economics of Climate Change: Adaptations Past and Present, pages 73-98 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11983
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary D. Libecap & Zeynep Kocabiyik Hansen, 2000. ""Rain Follows the Plow" and Dryfarming Doctrine: The Climate Information Problem and Homestead Failure in the Upper Great Plains, 1890-1925," NBER Historical Working Papers 0127, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Mark Carlson & Kris James Mitchener, 2009. "Branch Banking as a Device for Discipline: Competition and Bank Survivorship during the Great Depression," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(2), pages 165-210, April.
    3. Zeynep K. Hansen & Gary D. Libecap, 2004. "Small Farms, Externalities, and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 665-694, June.
    4. James, John A., 1976. "The Evolution of the National Money Market, 1888–1911," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 36(01), pages 271-275, March.
    5. Henry Ludwell Moore, 1921. "The Origin of the Eight-Year Generating Cycle," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(1), pages 1-29.
    6. Ramirez, Carlos D., 2003. "Did branch banking restrictions increase bank failures? Evidence from Virginia and West Virginia in the late 1920s," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 331-352.
    7. A. Piatt Andrew, 1906. "The Influence of the Crops upon Business in America," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(3), pages 323-352.
    8. Landon-Lane, John & Rockoff, Hugh, 2007. "The origin and diffusion of shocks to regional interest rates in the United States, 1880-2002," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 487-500, July.
    9. Bordo, Michael D. & Rockoff, Hugh & Redish, Angela, 1994. "The U.S. Banking System From a Northern Exposure: Stability versus Efficiency," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(02), pages 325-341, June.
    10. Alston, Lee J., 1983. "Farm Foreclosures in the United States During the Interwar Period," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(04), pages 885-903, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ian Wing & Karen Fisher-Vanden, 2013. "Confronting the challenge of integrated assessment of climate adaptation: a conceptual framework," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 117(3), pages 497-514, April.
    2. Mathieu Couttenier & Raphael Soubeyran, 2014. "Drought and Civil War In Sub‐Saharan Africa," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(575), pages 201-244, March.
    3. Bowen, Alex & Cochrane, Sarah & Fankhauser, Samuel, 2012. "Climate change, adaptation and economic growth," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 39939, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Benjamin Chabot & Charles C. Moul, 2014. "Bank Panics, Government Guarantees, and the Long‐Run Size of the Financial Sector: Evidence from Free‐Banking America," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 46(5), pages 961-997, August.
    5. Alex Bowen & Sarah Cochrane & Samuel Fankhauser, 2012. "Climate change, adaptation and economic growth," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 113(2), pages 95-106, July.
    6. Batten,, Sandra & Sowerbutts, Rhiannon & Tanaka, Misa, 2016. "Let’s talk about the weather: the impact of climate change on central banks," Bank of England working papers 603, Bank of England.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • N11 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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