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The Prewar Business Cycle Reconsidered: New Estimates of Gross National Product, 1869-1908

Christina D. Romer
Journal of Political Economy
Vol. 97, No. 1 (Feb., 1989), pp. 1-37
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1831054
Page Count: 37
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The Prewar Business Cycle Reconsidered: New Estimates of Gross National Product, 1869-1908
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Abstract

Traditional estimates of prewar GNP exaggerate the size of cycles because they are based on the assumption that GNP moves approximately one for one with commodity output valued in producer prices. This paper derives new estimates of GNP for 1869-1908 using an estimate of the actual relationship between GNP and commodity output. This estimated relationship is allowed to be time-varying and is derived from a regression covering the periods 1909-28 and 1947-85. The new estimates of GNP indicate that there has been much less stabilization between the prewar and postwar eras than is conventionally believed.

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