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Integration and Deregulation of European Grain Markets, 1500-1900


  • Karl Gunnar Persson

    (Institute of Economics, University of Copenhagen)


This paper gives straightforward answers to complex problems. First it identifies the adverse affects of the high price volatility typical of segmented grain markets during the ancien régime. Extending a result in the modern literature on poverty and famines it is argued that price stability improves 'survival' chances in a given capability state, such as the capability to participate in the labour market or to perform normal 'doings and beings'. Price instability in segmented markets was caused by local and independent supply shocks but these shocks had less and less impact on prices on, say, local wheat, because of the increased number of substitutes, such as wheat from other markets or other types of food, due to market integration permitted by lower transport, storage, and transaction costs. Then it asks why grain markets after centuries of regulation and public intervention enter a long century of deregulation starting c. 1750, and finally can be characterized as 'laissez-faire' markets. Cost-reducing technological progress stimulated integration which implied price stabilization and the waning of market power.

Suggested Citation

  • Karl Gunnar Persson, "undated". "Integration and Deregulation of European Grain Markets, 1500-1900," Discussion Papers 94-07, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:9407

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wagner, Alfred, 1891. "Marshall's Principles of Economics," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 5, pages 319-338.
    2. Sutton, John, 1993. "Echoes of Edgeworth: The problem of indeterminacy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 491-499, April.
    3. Hildenbrand, Werner, 1993. "Francis Ysidro Edgeworth: Perfect competition and the core," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 477-490, April.
    4. Andreu Mas-Colell, 1982. "Perfect Competition and the Core," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(1), pages 15-30.
    5. Jevons, William Stanley, 1871. "The Theory of Political Economy," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number jevons1871.
    6. Edgeworth, Francis Ysidro, 1881. "Mathematical Psychics," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number edgeworth1881.
    7. Vind, Karl, 1983. "Equilibrium with coordination," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 275-285, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Walter Labys, 2005. "Commodity Price Fluctuations: A Century of Analysis," Working Papers Working Paper 2005-01, Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University.
    2. repec:rri:wpaper:200501 is not listed on IDEAS

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    JEL classification:

    • O51 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - U.S.; Canada


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