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Fighting the Forces of Gravity - Seapower and Maritime Trade between the 18th and 20th Centuries

  • Ahmed S. Rahman

    ()

    (United States Naval Academy)

Do conflicts among naval powers hurt international trade? In theory the commercially relevant aspects of aggressive naval power can either thwart trade (through blockades, embargoes, commerce raiding, and guerre de course strategies) or facilitate trade (through control of trade routes and protection of shipping). Thus the question must be empirically addressed. Using a panel gravity model, we investigate the interactions of war, naval power and merchant trade from the 18th to mid-20th centuries . Whether looking at English trade during the 18th century, or at a wide range of trading partners during the 19th and 20th centuries, wars involving naval powers considerably limit inter-state commerce. Further, we split this effect on trade between an extensive effect (the effect on a country’s trade when fighting a naval power) and an intensive effect (the effect of that power gaining more naval strength). We conclude that the intensive effect is a powerful one - that is, naval strength has historically been a destroyer of trade when mobilized to combat.

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File URL: http://www.usna.edu/EconDept/RePEc/usn/wp/usnawp17.pdf
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Paper provided by United States Naval Academy Department of Economics in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 17.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:usn:usnawp:17
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  1. Mansfield, Edward D. & Pevehouse, Jon C., 2000. "Trade Blocs, Trade Flows, and International Conflict," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(04), pages 775-808, September.
  2. Ronald Findlay & Kevin H. O'Rourke, 2007. "Power and Plenty: Trade, War and the World Economy in the Second Millennium (Preface)," Trinity Economics Papers tep0107, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
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  7. Ronald Findlay & Kevin H. O'Rourke, 2007. "Preface to Power and Plenty: Trade, War, and the World Economy in the Second Millennium
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  8. Thursby, Jerry G & Thursby, Marie C, 1987. "Bilateral Trade Flows, the Linder Hypothesis, and Exchange Risk," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(3), pages 488-95, August.
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  10. Silvana Tenreyro & Robert J. Barro, 2003. "Economic Effects of Currency Unions," NBER Working Papers 9435, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Michael A. Clemens & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2000. "Where did British Foreign Capital Go? Fundamentals, Failures and the Lucas Paradox: 1870-1913," NBER Working Papers 8028, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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