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Macroeconomics Commons

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CMC Senior Theses

Economic History

Antebellum; Business cycles; Cotton; Industrial production; Railroads; Volatility

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America's First Great Moderation, Ryan Shaffer Jan 2011

America's First Great Moderation, Ryan Shaffer

CMC Senior Theses

This paper identifies America's first Great Moderation, a period from 1841-1856 of unbroken economic expansion and low volatility comparable to the Great Moderation of the 1980s-2000s. This moderation occurred despite a lack of central banks, low governmental spending, and barriers to interstate commerce during the antebellum period. I demonstrate this moderation in industrial production and stock market indexes and compare the first Great Moderation with the second in these economic factors. These results also call into question the conventional wisdom of the National Bureau of Economic Research business cycle chronology that the antebellum period was volatile and fraught with ...