The Impact of Interwar Protection: Evidence from India (with Vellore Arthi, Markus Lampe and Ashwin Nair).
What is the impact of trade policy in developing countries? We address the question in the context of interwar India. We quantify the impact of trade policy on the value and composition of Indian imports, using novel disaggregated data on both trade policies and imports for 114 commodity categories coming from 42 countries. Indian trade elasticities were generally larger than those in the United Kingdom at the same time. We find that even though Indian protection lowered total imports, it substantially boosted imports from the UK. Trade policy had a big impact on trade flows.
The gravitational constant? (with David S. Jacks and Alan M. Taylor).
We introduce a new dataset on British exports at the bilateral, commodity-level from 1700 to 1899. We then pit two primary determinants of bilateral trade against one another: the trade-diminishing effects of distance versus the trade-enhancing effects of the British Empire. We find that gravity exerted its pull as early as 1700, but the distance effect then attenuated and had almost vanished by 1800. Meanwhile the empire effect peaked sometime in the late 18th century before significantly declining in value. It was only after 1950 that distance would once again exert the same influence that it has today.
The ends of 30 big depressions (with Martin Ellison and Sang Seok Lee).
How did countries recover from the Great Depression? In this paper we explore the argument that leaving the gold standard helped by boosting inflationary expectations and lowering real interest rates. We do so for a sample of 30 countries, using modern nowcasting methods and a new dataset containing more than 230,000 monthly and quarterly observations for over 1,500 variables. In those cases where the departure from gold happened on clearly defined dates, it seems clear that inflationary expectations rose in the wake of departure. IV regressions and synthetic matching techniques suggest that the relationship is causal. Data
Trade, Technology, and the Great Divergence (with Ahmed S. Rahman and Alan M. Taylor).
Why did per capita income divergence occur so dramatically during the 19th century, rather than at the outset of the Industrial Revolution? How were some countries able to reverse this trend during the globalization of the late 20th century? To answer these questions, this paper develops a trade-and-growth model that captures the key features of the Industrial Revolution and Great Divergence between a core industrializing region and a peripheral and potentially lagging region. The model includes both endogenous biased technological change and intercontinental trade. An Industrial Revolution begins as a sequence of more unskilled-labor-intensive innovations in one or both regions. We show that the subsequent co-evolution of trade and directed technologies can create a delayed but inevitable divergence in demographics and living standards—the peripheral region increasingly specializes in production that worsens its terms of trade and spurs even greater fertility increases and educational declines. Allowing for eventual technological diffusion between regions can mitigate and even reverse divergence, spurring a reversal of fortune for peripheral regions.
An annual index of Irish industrial production, 1800-1921 (with Seán Kenny and Jason Lennard).
We construct an annual index of Irish industrial output for 1800-1921, the period during which the entire island was in a political Union with Great Britain. We also construct a new industrial price index. Irish industrial output grew by an average of 1.4 per cent per annum over the period as a whole, and by 1.8 per cent per annum between 1800 and the outbreak of World War I. Industrial growth was more rapid than previously thought before the Famine, and slower afterwards. While Ireland did not experience deindustrialization either before the Famine or afterwards, its industrial growth was disappointing when considered in a comparative perspective.
The Smoot-Hawley trade war (with Kris Mitchener and Kirsten Wandschneider).
We document the outbreak of a trade war after the U.S. adopted the Smoot-Hawley tariff in June 1930. U.S. trade partners initially protested the possible implementation of the sweeping tariff legislation, with many eventually choosing to retaliate by increasing their tariffs on imports from the United States. Using a new quarterly dataset on bilateral trade for 99 countries during the interwar period, we show that U.S. exports to countries that protested fell by between 15 and 22 percent, while U.S. exports to retaliators fell by 28-33 percent. Furthermore, using a second new dataset on U.S. exports at the product-level, we find that the most important U.S. exports to retaliating markets were particularly affected, suggesting a possible mechanism whereby the U.S. was targeted despite countries’ MFN obligations. The retaliators’ welfare gains from trade fell by roughly 8-17%.