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Geographic Barriers to Commodity Price Integration: Evidence from US Cities and Swedish Towns, 1732 - 1860

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  • Mario J. Crucini
  • Gregor W. Smith

Abstract

We study the role of distance and time in statistically explaining price dispersion for 14 commodities from 1732 to 1860. The prices are reported for US cities and Swedish market towns, so we can compare international and intranational dispersion. Distance and commodity-specific fixed effects explain a large share - roughly 60% - of the variability in a panel of more than 230,000 relative prices over these 128 years. There was a negative “ocean effect”: international dispersion was less than would be predicted using distance, narrowing the effective ocean by more than 3000 km. Price dispersion declined over time beginning in the 18th century. This process of convergence was broad-based, across commodities and locations (both national and international). But there was a major interruption in convergence in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, at the time of the Napoleonic Wars, stopping the process by two or three decades on average.

Suggested Citation

  • Mario J. Crucini & Gregor W. Smith, 2014. "Geographic Barriers to Commodity Price Integration: Evidence from US Cities and Swedish Towns, 1732 - 1860," CAMA Working Papers 2014-75, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:een:camaaa:2014-75
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    distance effect; border effect; law of one price;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N70 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • F61 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Microeconomic Impacts

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