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A Small Open Economy in Depression: Lessons from Canada in the 1930s


  • Caroline M. Betts
  • Michael D. Bordo
  • Angela Redish


This paper tests the hypothesis that idiosyncratic U.S. disturbances and their international propagation can account for the global Depression. Exploiting common stochastic trends in U.S. and Canadian interwar data, we estimate a small open economy model for Canada that decomposes output fluctuations into sources identifiable with world and country-specific disturbances. We find that the onset, depth and duration of output collapse in both Canada and the U.S. are primarily attributable to a common, permanent output shock leaving little significant role for idiosyncratic disturbances originating in either economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Caroline M. Betts & Michael D. Bordo & Angela Redish, 1993. "A Small Open Economy in Depression: Lessons from Canada in the 1930s," NBER Working Papers 4515, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4515
    Note: ME

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barro, Robert J, 1979. "Money and the Price Level under the Gold Standard," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 89(353), pages 13-33, March.
    2. Bernanke, Ben S., 1986. "Alternative explanations of the money-income correlation," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 49-99, January.
    3. Ahmed, Shaghil & Ickes, Barry W. & Ping Wang & Byung Sam Yoo, 1993. "International Business Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 335-359, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bordo, Michael D. & Schwartz, Anna J., 1999. "Monetary policy regimes and economic performance: The historical record," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 3, pages 149-234 Elsevier.
    2. Angela Redish & Olga Marcela Namen, 2012. "Central Banks: Past, Present, Future," Ensayos sobre Política Económica, Banco de la Republica de Colombia, vol. 30(67), pages 14-35.
    3. Nicolas-Guillaume Martineau & Gregor W. Smith, 2015. "Identifying fiscal policy (in)effectiveness from the differential counter-cyclicality of government spending in the interwar period," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 48(4), pages 1291-1320, November.
    4. Rockoff, Hugh & White, Eugene N., 2012. "Monetary Regimes and Policy on a Global Scale: The Oeuvre of Michael D. Bordo," MPRA Paper 49672, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised May 2013.
    5. Ehsan U. Choudhri & Lawrence L. Schembri, 2013. "A Tale of Two Countries and Two Booms, Canada and the United States in the 1920s and the 2000s: The Roles of Monetary and Financial Stability Policies," Working Paper series 44_13, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.

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    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-


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