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International Aspects of the Great Depression and the Crisis of 2007: Similarities, Differences, and Lessons


  • Richard S. Grossman

    () (Department of Economics, Wesleyan University)

  • Christopher M. Meissner

    () (Department of Economics, University of California, Davis, and National Bureau of Economic Research)


We focus on two international aspects of the Great Depression--financial crises and international trade—and try to discern lessons for the current economic crisis. Both downturns featured global banking crises which were generated by boom-slump macroeconomic cycles. During both crises, world trade collapsed faster than world incomes and the trade decline was highly synchronized across countries. In the Depression, income losses and rises in trade barriers explain trade’s collapse. Due to vertical specialization and more intense trade in durables today’s trade collapse is due to uncertainty and small shocks to trade costs hitting international supply chains. So far, the global economy has avoided the global trade wars and banking collapses of the Depression perhaps due to improved policy. Even so, the global economy remains susceptible to large shocks due to financial innovation and technological change as recent events illustrate.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard S. Grossman & Christopher M. Meissner, 2010. "International Aspects of the Great Depression and the Crisis of 2007: Similarities, Differences, and Lessons," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2010-002, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics, revised Aug 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:wes:weswpa:2010-002 Note: Earlier version available at

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    Cited by:

    1. Fabio C. Bagliano & Claudio Morana, 2012. "Macro-Finance Interactions in the US: A Global Perspective," Chapters in SUERF Studies, SUERF - The European Money and Finance Forum.
    2. Kris James Mitchener & Gary Richardson, 2016. "Network Contagion and Interbank Amplification during the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 22074, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. van Bergeijk, P.A.G., 2015. "The heterogeneity of world trade collapses," ISS Working Papers - General Series 606, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    4. Mitchener, Kris James & Wandschneider, Kirsten, 2015. "Capital controls and recovery from the financial crisis of the 1930s," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(2), pages 188-201.
    5. Cristian Spiridon, 2012. "Trade Liberalisation In Europe And The Rest Of The World," CES Working Papers, Centre for European Studies, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, vol. 4(3), pages 407-418, September.
    6. Raphael Hekimian & David Le Bris, 2016. "US Crashes of 2008 and 1929 How did the French market react? An empirical study," EconomiX Working Papers 2016-21, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.
    7. Li, C. & van Bergeijk, P.A.G., 2016. "Do natural disasters stimulate international trade?," ISS Working Papers - General Series 622, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    8. Bagliano, Fabio C. & Morana, Claudio, 2012. "The Great Recession: US dynamics and spillovers to the world economy," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 1-13.
    9. 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.
    10. Cristian SPIRIDON, 2012. "World Trade Liberalisation Since The Xixth Century Up To Date," Review of Economic and Business Studies, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, issue 9, pages 205-216, June.
    11. Gregori Galofré-Vilà & Christopher M. Meissner & Martin McKee & David Stuckler, 2017. "Austerity and the rise of the Nazi party," NBER Working Papers 24106, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. repec:jes:wpaper:y:2012:v:4:p:407-418 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Great Depression; Crisis of 2007;

    JEL classification:

    • E50 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - General
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • F4 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N70 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - General, International, or Comparative


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