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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Economics

Year Degree Awarded

2018

Month Degree Awarded

September

First Advisor

Carol E. Heim

Second Advisor

Gerald Epstein

Third Advisor

Rui Esteves

Fourth Advisor

Kevin Young

Subject Categories

Economics

Abstract

This dissertation studies the factors that contribute to the onset of financial crises (Chapter 1) and the ways that economies have recovered from crises (Chapters 2 and 3). I am specifically interested in the role that governments played in financial crises and recoveries. I focus on thirty-five peripheral economies from 1870-1913. Economic historians refer to this period as the “first era of globalization” for its high degree of in- ternational capital, trade, and labor movements. This was also an economically volatile time, with relatively frequent financial crises. Other economic variables, such as com- modity prices and tariff rates, saw significant fluctuations over this period. The turn of the twentieth century offers a rich source of data for analyzing the factors that contribute to the onset of financial crises as well as the recoveries from those crises.

The first chapter studies the role that capital exports from industrial Europe played in financial crises in peripheral economies from 1880-1913. Capital flows to government- supported sectors (railways, public utilities, and banks) are found to be strongly associ- ated with crises in emerging economies at this time, highlighting the role that a negative feedback loop—between governments facing financial stress and government-supported industries—played in the onset of crises.

The second chapter addresses the question of what factors drive recoveries after financial crises. I find that tariff shocks had a positive impact on GDP in post-crisis periods, while terms of trade shocks had a slightly negative impact. The tariff results are especially pronounced in temperate countries, which tended to have more advanced and diversified economies. Overall this suggests that national governments, through trade policies, played a more significant role in shaping economic outcomes during this period than is typically recognized.

The third chapter builds on the second chapter by focusing on the cases of the United States and Argentina in the early 1890s, when both of these countries experienced severe financial crises. Higher commodity prices played more of a role in encouraging post-crisis economic growth than did trade policy changes in these countries over this period.

Available for download on Friday, March 01, 2019

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