IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Shifts in the Nineteenth-Century Phillips Curve Relationship


  • John A. James


This paper examines shifts in the output effects of unanticipated inflation in the nineteenth-century United States by estimatinga Lucas-type aggregate supply function over the 1840-1900 period. It is shown that, in contrast to the twentieth-century experience in which there has been a pronounced movement toward greater cyclical price rigidity, the nineteenth-century output response to unanticipated price changes was roughly stable over the period. Such stability is also particularly interesting in view of the dramatic changes in communications and transportation technology, particularly the telegraph and the railroad, which greatly facilitated information flows and thereby should have forced the price-surprise coefficient downward. Other factors which may have offset the influence of these improvements in information technology on the price-surprise coefficient include the reduced general price level variability due to the gold standard in the postbellum period and the possibility that the net effects of such improvements may in fact have been small because shocks were able to spread more rapidly aswell. Finally, the perceived increase in cyclical price rigidity over the nineteenth century in the raw data is shown to have resulted not from a change in price-surprise coefficient hut rather from an increased degree of persistence or inertia in the economy.

Suggested Citation

  • John A. James, 1985. "Shifts in the Nineteenth-Century Phillips Curve Relationship," NBER Working Papers 1587, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1587
    Note: DAE

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hercowitz, Zvi, 1981. "Money and the Dispersion of Relative Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 328-356, April.
    2. Gordon, Robert J, 1980. "A Consistent Characterization of a Near-Century of Price Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(2), pages 243-249, May.
    3. Gordon, Robert J, 1981. "Output Fluctuations and Gradual Price Adjustment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 493-530, June.
    4. David, Paul A., 1977. "Invention and accumulation in america's economic growth: A nineteenth-century parable," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 179-228, January.
    5. Arthur F. Burns & Wesley C. Mitchell, 1946. "Measuring Business Cycles," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number burn46-1, January.
    6. Froyen, Richard T & Waud, Roger N, 1984. "The Changing Relationship between Aggregate Price and Output: The British Experience," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 51(201), pages 53-67, February.
    7. James, John A., 1984. "Public debt management policy and nineteenth-century American economic growth," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 192-217, April.
    8. Fair, Ray C, 1979. "An Analysis of the Accuracy of Four Macroeconometric Models," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 701-718, August.
    9. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1973. "Some International Evidence on Output-Inflation Tradeoffs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(3), pages 326-334, June.
    10. Milton Friedman & Anna Jacobson Schwartz, 1970. "Monetary Statistics of the United States: Estimates, Sources, Methods," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie70-1, January.
    11. Godfrey, L G, 1976. "Testing for Serial Correlation in Dynamic Simultaneous Equation Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(5), pages 1077-1084, September.
    12. Michael L. Wachter, 1976. "The Changing Cyclical Responsiveness of Wage Inflation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 7(1), pages 115-168.
    13. Cukierman, Alex, 1979. "Rational expectations and the role of monetary policy : A generalization," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 213-229, April.
    14. Feige, Edgar L & Pearce, Douglas K, 1976. "Economically Rational Expectations: Are Innovations in the Rate of Inflation Independent of Innovations in Measures of Monetary and Fiscal Policy?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(3), pages 499-522, June.
    15. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1975. "An Equilibrium Model of the Business Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1113-1144, December.
    16. Abramovitz, Moses & David, Paul A, 1973. "Reinterpreting Economic Growth: Parables and Realities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 428-439, May.
    17. J. R. T. Hughes & Nathan Rosenberg, 1963. "The United States Business Cycle before i860: some Problems of Interpretation," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 15(3), pages 476-493, April.
    18. Stevens, Edward J, 1971. "Composition of the Money Stock Prior to the Civil War," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 3(1), pages 84-101, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Bordo, Michael D., 1986. "Explorations in monetary history: A survey of the literature," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 339-415, October.
    2. Charles W. Calomiris & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1985. "Price Flexibility, Credit Rationing, and Economic Fluctuations: Evidence from the U.S., 1879-1914," NBER Working Papers 1767, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Charles W. Calomiris, 1992. "Greenback Resumption and Silver Risk: The Economics and Politics of Monetary Regime Change in the United States, 1862-1900," NBER Working Papers 4166, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1587. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.