Abstract

Most major American industrial business cycles from around 1880 to the First World War were caused by fluctuations in the size of the cotton harvest due to economically exogenous factors such as weather. Wheat and corn harvests did not affect industrial production; nor did the cotton harvest before the late 1870s. The unique effect of the cotton harvest in this period can be explained as an essentially monetary phenomenon, the result of interactions between harvests, international gold flows, and high-powered money demand under America's goldstandard regime of 1879–1914.

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