IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Weather forecast or rain-dance? On inter-war business barometers


  • Giovanni Favero

    () (Department of Economics, University Of Venice C� Foscari)


In this paper, I use the materials of the debate on the reliability and the utility of �business barometers� of the Twenties in order to show that the theoretical reflexions of the time could be used by economic historians as a working hypothesis to analyze the influence exerted by circulating statistical data on the decisions of economic operators and institutions. I offer a short illustration of the origins and circulation of economic trends forecasting in the first decades of 20th century, paying particular attention to the critical attitude shown by Corrado Gini and Oskar Morgenstern and to the debate arisen inside the Harvard Committee for Economic Research on the inefficiency of its �index of economic conditions� during the 1929 crisis. I finally suggest that thorough research on the circulation and the influence exerted by the Harvard index on the business world, still after the slump in prices of New York Stock Exchange, could contribute to explain the behaviour of American businessmen and investors during the first Thirties, and the deepening of the crisis.

Suggested Citation

  • Giovanni Favero, 2007. "Weather forecast or rain-dance? On inter-war business barometers," Working Papers 2007_14, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
  • Handle: RePEc:ven:wpaper:2007_14

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2007
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dominguez, Kathryn M & Fair, Ray C & Shapiro, Matthew D, 1988. "Forecasting the Depression: Harvard versus Yale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 595-612, September.
    2. Milton Friedman & Anna J. Schwartz, 1963. "A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie63-1, January.
    3. Eichengreen, Barry, 1996. "Golden Fetters: The Gold Standard and the Great Depression, 1919-1939," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195101133.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Economic forecasts; 1930s crisis; US;

    JEL classification:

    • N22 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N42 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N82 - Economic History - - Micro-Business History - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • B23 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Econometrics; Quantitative and Mathematical Studies

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    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:ven:wpaper:2007_14. 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: (Geraldine Ludbrook). 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.