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The Long American Grain Invasion of Britain: Market integration and the wheat trade between North America and Britain from the Eighteenth Century

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  • Paul Sharp

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

This paper provides evidence that transatlantic commodity market integration began prior to the “first era of globalization” at the end of the nineteenth century. It does so by giving a long term perspective to the story of the development of an Atlantic Economy in wheat between the United States and Britain. Both trade statistics and contemporary comment reveal the importance of this trade from the middle to late eighteenth century, long before the so-called grain invasion of the late nineteenth century. Using data on imports from America and a large volume of substantiating primary evidence, specific periods are identified when market integration might have been possible. Using price data for wheat in America and Britain, some evidence is found that markets were integrated, but this process was continuously being interrupted by “exogenous” events, such as trade policy, war and politics. Transportation costs cannot be seen to be the driving force behind periods of increased trade, which are more attributable to the absence of these exogenous events.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Sharp, 2008. "The Long American Grain Invasion of Britain: Market integration and the wheat trade between North America and Britain from the Eighteenth Century," Discussion Papers 08-20, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0820
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    File URL: http://www.econ.ku.dk/english/research/publications/wp/2008/0820.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alan L. Olmstead & Paul W. Rhode, 2002. "The Red Queen and the Hard Reds: Productivity Growth in American Wheat, 1800-1940," NBER Working Papers 8863, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Persson, Karl Gunnar, 2004. "Mind the gap! Transport costs and price convergence in the nineteenth century Atlantic economy," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(2), pages 125-147, August.
    3. Paul Sharp, 2008. "Pushing Wheat: Why Supply Mattered for the American Grain Invasion of Britain in the Nineteenth Century," Discussion Papers 08-08, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    4. Murray R. Benedict, 1939. "Development of Agricultural Statistics in the Bureau of the Census," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 21(4), pages 735-760.
    5. Jacks, David S., 2006. "What drove 19th century commodity market integration?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 383-412, July.
    6. Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2008. "Globalization and the Great Divergence: Terms of Trade Booms and Volatility in the Poor Periphery 1782-1913," NBER Working Papers 13841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Whaples, Robert, 1995. "Where Is There Consensus Among American Economic Historians? The Results of a Survey on Forty Propositions," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 55(1), pages 139-154, March.
    8. Unknown, 1934. "Decline and Recovery of Wheat Prices in the 'Nineties," Wheat Studies, Stanford University, Food Research Institute, vol. 10(08-09), pages 1-64, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Giovanni Federico, 2011. "A Tale of Two Oceans: Market Integration Over the High Seas, 1800-1940," Working Papers 0011, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    2. Wolfgang Keller & Carol H. Shiue & Xin Wang, 2020. "Capital markets and grain prices: assessing the storage cost approach," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 14(2), pages 367-396, May.
    3. Thomas I. Palley, 2018. "Three globalizations, not two: rethinking the history and economics of trade and globalization," European Journal of Economics and Economic Policies: Intervention, Edward Elgar Publishing, vol. 15(2), pages 174-192, September.
    4. Dimitrios Theodoridis & Paul Warde & Astrid Kander, 2016. "Trade and overcoming land constraints in the British Industrial Revolution: the role of coal and cotton revisited," Working Papers 16027, Economic History Society.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    grain invasion; wheat; globalization; American colonial trade;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N7 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services

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