IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/red/sed007/712.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Real Origins of the Great Depression: Monopoly Power, Unions and the American Business Cycle in the 1920s

Author

Listed:
  • Albrecht Ritschl

    (Humboldt-University of Berlin and CEPR)

  • Monique Ebell

    (Humboldt-University of Berlin)

Abstract

If both downturns were caused by workers' improved ability to bargain collectively, then why was the Great Depression so much more severe than its precursor? According to our model, an increase in monopoly power amplifies the impact of collective bargaining on output and employment. Hence, if monopoly power were greater at the onset of the Great Depression than at the onset of the recession of 1920-21, the former would be more severe. Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that monopoly power increased substantially during the Coolidge administration due to weak anti-trust enforcement.

Suggested Citation

  • Albrecht Ritschl & Monique Ebell, 2007. "Real Origins of the Great Depression: Monopoly Power, Unions and the American Business Cycle in the 1920s," 2007 Meeting Papers 712, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed007:712
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://economicdynamics.org/meetpapers/2007/paper_712.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 2002. "Accounting for the Great Depression (technical appendix)," Working Papers 619, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    2. Paul Beaudry & Franck Portier, 2002. "The French Depression in the 1930s," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(1), pages 73-99, January.
    3. Eugene White & Frederic Mishkin, 2002. "U.S.Stock Market Crashes and Their Aftermath: Implications for Monetary Policy," Departmental Working Papers 200208, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
    4. Bittlingmayer, George, 1992. "Stock Returns, Real Activity, and the Trust Question," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(5), pages 1701-1730, December.
    5. Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 2005. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199279173.
    6. Christina D. Romer, 1990. "The Great Crash and the Onset of the Great Depression," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(3), pages 597-624.
    7. Raff, Daniel M G & Summers, Lawrence H, 1987. "Did Henry Ford Pay Efficiency Wages?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(4), pages 57-86, October.
    8. Lawrence J. Christiano & Roberto Motto & Massimo Rostagno, 2003. "The Great Depression and the Friedman-Schwartz hypothesis," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 1119-1215.
    9. Rappoport, Peter & White, Eugene N., 1993. "Was There a Bubble in the 1929 Stock Market?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 549-574, September.
    10. Romer, Christina, 1986. "Spurious Volatility in Historical Unemployment Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(1), pages 1-37, February.
    11. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Gerard A. Pfann, 1996. "Adjustment Costs in Factor Demand," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 1264-1292, September.
    12. Ebell, Monique & Haefke, Christian, 2006. "Product Market Regulation and Endogenous Union Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 2222, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Harold L. Cole & Ron Leung & Lee E. Ohanian, 2005. "Deflation and the international Great Depression: a productivity puzzle," Staff Report 356, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    14. Hanes, Christopher, 1996. "Changes in the Cyclical Behavior of Real Wage Rates, 1870–1990," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(4), pages 837-861, December.
    15. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 2007. "Business Cycle Accounting," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(3), pages 781-836, May.
    16. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2002. "The Great U.K. Depression: A Puzzle and Possible Resolution," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(1), pages 19-44, January.
    17. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 2006. "Appendices: Business cycle accounting," Staff Report 362, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    18. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
    19. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "The Relation between Price and Marginal Cost in U.S. Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(5), pages 921-947, October.
    20. Lawrence J. Christiano & Roberto Motto & Massimo Rostagno, 2003. "The Great Depression and the Friedman-Schwartz hypothesis," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 1119-1215.
    21. Jonas D. M. Fisher & Andreas Hornstein, 2001. "The role of real wages, productivity and fiscal policy in Germany's Great Depression 1928-1937," Working Paper Series WP-01-07, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    22. Ellen R. McGrattan & Edward C. Prescott, 2004. "The 1929 Stock Market: Irving Fisher Was Right," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(4), pages 991-1009, November.
    23. Bernanke, Ben S, 1983. "Nonmonetary Effects of the Financial Crisis in Propagation of the Great Depression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 257-276, June.
    24. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2002. "The Great U.K. Depression: A Puzzle and Possible Resolution," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(1), pages 19-44, January.
    25. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 2003. "Accounting for the Great Depression," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, vol. 27(Spr), pages 2-8.
    26. Bernanke, Ben S, 1995. "The Macroeconomics of the Great Depression: A Comparative Approach," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(1), pages 1-28, February.
    27. Barber,William J., 1989. "From New Era to New Deal," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521367370.
    28. Roeger, Werner, 1995. "Can Imperfect Competition Explain the Difference between Primal and Dual Productivity Measures? Estimates for U.S. Manufacturing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(2), pages 316-330, April.
    29. Jonas D.M. Fisher & Andreas Hornstein, 2002. "The Role of Real Wages, Productivity, and Fiscal Policy in Germany's Great Depression 1928-37," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(1), pages 100-127, January.
    30. Jonas D.M. Fisher & Andreas Hornstein, 2002. "The Role of Real Wages, Productivity, and Fiscal Policy in Germany's Great Depression 1928-37," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(1), pages 100-127, January.
    31. Keller, Robert R., 1973. "Factor Income Distribution in the United States During the 1920's: A Reexamination of Fact and Theory," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 33(1), pages 252-273, March.
    32. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 2004. "New Deal Policies and the Persistence of the Great Depression: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 779-816, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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


    Cited by:

    1. Jordan Roulleau-Pasdeloup & Anastasia Zhutova, 2015. "Labor Market Policies and the "Missing Deflation" Puzzle: Lessons from Hoover Policies during the U.S Great Depression," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'économie 15.05, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, Département d’économie.
    2. Marco Manacorda, 2012. "The Cost of Grade Retention," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(2), pages 596-606, May.
    3. Reicher, Christopher Phillip, 2009. "Expectations, monetary policy, and labor markets: lessons from the Great Depression," Kiel Working Papers 1543, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    4. Timothy J. Hatton & Mark Thomas, 2012. "Labour Markets in Recession and Recovery: The UK and the USA in the 1920s and 1930s," CEH Discussion Papers 001, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    5. Joshua L. Rosenbloom & William A. Sundstrom, 2009. "Labor-Market Regimes in U.S. Economic History," NBER Working Papers 15055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Timothy J. Hatton & Mark Thomas, 2010. "Labour markets in the interwar period and economic recovery in the UK and the USA," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(3), pages 463-485, Autumn.
    7. Erik Bengtsson & Jakob Molinder, 2017. "The economic effects of the 1920 eight-hour working day reform in Sweden," Scandinavian Economic History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 65(2), pages 149-168, May.
    8. Hansen, G.D. & Ohanian, L.E., 2016. "Neoclassical Models in Macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 2043-2130, Elsevier.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Ebell, Monique & Ritschl, Albrecht, 2007. "Real Origins of the Great Depression: Monopolistic Competition, Union Power, and the American Business Cycle in the 1920s," CEPR Discussion Papers 6146, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Luca Pensieroso, 2007. "Real Business Cycle Models Of The Great Depression: A Critical Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(1), pages 110-142, February.
    3. Luca Pensieroso, 2011. "The Great Depression in Belgium from a Neoclassical Perspective," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(2), pages 389-402, Arpil.
    4. Breitenlechner, Max & Mathy, Gabriel P. & Scharler, Johann, 2021. "Decomposing the U.S. Great Depression: How important were loan supply shocks?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    5. Slim BRIDJI, 2007. "Accounting for the French Great Depression," 2007 Meeting Papers 461, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Ritschl, Albrecht & Straumann, Tobias, 2009. "Business cycles and economic policy, 1914-1945: a survey," Economic History Working Papers 22402, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    7. Nicholas Crafts & Peter Fearon, 2010. "Lessons from the 1930s Great Depression," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(3), pages 285-317, Autumn.
    8. Fabien Tripier, 2009. "Elasticity of factor substitution and the rise in labor's share of income during the Great Depression," Working Papers hal-00419343, HAL.
    9. Satyajit Chatterjee & Dean Corbae, 2006. "Monetary and financial forces in the Great Depression," Working Papers 06-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    10. Lawrence J. Christiano & Roberto Motto & Massimo Rostagno, 2003. "The Great Depression and the Friedman-Schwartz hypothesis," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 1119-1215.
    11. Saijo Hikaru, 2008. "The Japanese Depression in the Interwar Period: A General Equilibrium Analysis," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-26, September.
    12. Gabriel P. Mathy, 2020. "How much did uncertainty shocks matter in the Great Depression?," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 14(2), pages 283-323, May.
    13. Hansen, G.D. & Ohanian, L.E., 2016. "Neoclassical Models in Macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 2043-2130, Elsevier.
    14. S. Rebelo., 2010. "Real Business Cycle Models: Past, Present, and Future," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 10.
    15. Keiichiro Kobayashi & Masaru Inaba, 2006. "Borrowing constraints and protracted recessions," Discussion papers 06011, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    16. Harrison, Sharon G. & Weder, Mark, 2006. "Did sunspot forces cause the Great Depression?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1327-1339, October.
    17. Luca Pensieroso & Romain Restout, 2018. "The Gold Standard and the Great Depression: a Dynamic General Equilibrium Model," LIDAM Discussion Papers IRES 2018016, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    18. Gauti B. Eggertsson, 2012. "Was the New Deal Contractionary?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 524-555, February.
    19. Jonathan Payne & Lawrence Uren, 2014. "Economic Policy and the Great Depression in a Small Open Economy," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 46(2-3), pages 347-370, March.
    20. Amaral, Pedro S. & MacGee, James C., 2017. "Monetary shocks and sticky wages in the U.S. great contraction: A multi-sector approach," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 112-129.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E27 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
    • J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N22 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:red:sed007:712. 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: (Christian Zimmermann). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/sedddea.html .

    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.