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Transfer Problem Dynamics: Macroeonomics of the Franco-Prussian War Indemnity

  • Michael B. Devereux

    (Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research)

  • Gregor W. Smith

We study the classic transfer problem of predicting the effects of an international transfer on the terms of trade and the current account. A two-country model with debt and capital allows for realistic features of historical transfers: they follow wartime increases in government spending and are financed partly by borrowing. The model is applied to the largest historical transfer, the Franco-Prussian War indemnity of 1871-1873. In these three years, France transferred to Germany an amount equal to 22 percent of a year¡¦s GDP. We investigate the ability of the model to account for the historical path of French GDP, terms of trade, net exports, and aggregate consumption. When combined with measured shocks to fiscal policy and productivity over the period, the model provides a very close fit to the historical sample path. This makes a strong case for the dynamic general equilibrium approach to studying the transfer problem. More generally, our results provide striking evidence of the importance of international capital markets in the nineteenth century.

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Paper provided by Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research in its series Working Papers with number 022004.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hkm:wpaper:022004
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  1. Jones, Ronald W., 1975. "Presumption and the transfer problem," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 263-274, August.
  2. Ariel T. Burstein & Joao C. Neves & Sergio Rebelo, 2000. "Distribution Costs and Real Exchange Rate Dynamics During Exchange-Rate-Based Stabilizations," RCER Working Papers 473, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
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  4. Philip R. Lane & Gian Milesi-Ferretti, 2001. "Long-Term Capital Movements," NBER Working Papers 8366, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Philip R. Lane & Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2002. "Long-Term Capital Movements," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2001, Volume 16, pages 73-136 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Jonathan Heathcote, 2003. "Financial Globalization and Real Regionalization," Working Papers gueconwpa~03-03-20, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
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  7. Kollmann, Robert, 2002. "Monetary Policy Rules in the Open Economy: Effects on Welfare and Business Cycles," CEPR Discussion Papers 3279, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Reinhart, Carmen & Ostry, Jonathan, 1992. "Saving and Terms of Trade Shocks: Evidence from Developing Countries," MPRA Paper 6976, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Mill, John Stuart, 1874. "Essays on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, edition 2, number mill1874.
  10. Jonathan David Ostry & Carmen Reinhart, 1991. "Private Saving and Terms of Trade Shocks; Evidence From Developing Countries," IMF Working Papers 91/100, International Monetary Fund.
  11. Devereux, Michael B. & Smith, Gregor W., 2007. "Transfer problem dynamics: Macroeconomics of the Franco-Prussian war indemnity," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(8), pages 2375-2398, November.
  12. Ritschl, Albrecht, 1998. "Reparation transfers, the Borchardt hypothesis and the Great Depression in Germany, 1929 32: A guided tour for hard-headed Keynesians," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(01), pages 49-72, April.
  13. Kindleberger, Charles P., 1993. "A Financial History of Western Europe," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, edition 2, number 9780195077384, March.
  14. Philip R. Lane & Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2004. "The Transfer Problem Revisited: Net Foreign Assets and Real Exchange Rates," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(4), pages 841-857, November.
  15. Pierpaolo Benigno, 2009. "Price Stability with Imperfect Financial Integration," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 41(s1), pages 121-149, 02.
  16. Flandreau, Marc, 1996. "The French Crime of 1873: An Essay on the Emergence of the International Gold Standard, 1870–1880," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(04), pages 862-897, December.
  17. Maurice Obstfeld and Kenneth Rogoff., 1994. "The Intertemporal Approach to the Current Account," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C94-044, University of California at Berkeley.
  18. Stockman, Alan C & Tesar, Linda L, 1995. "Tastes and Technology in a Two-Country Model of the Business Cycle: Explaining International Comovements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 168-85, March.
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  25. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521572149 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. Gavin, Michael, 1992. "Intertemporal Dimensions of International Economic Adjustment: Evidence from the Franco-Prussian War Indemnity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 174-79, May.
  27. Ohanian, Lee E, 1997. "The Macroeconomic Effects of War Finance in the United States: World War II and the Korean War," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 23-40, March.
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