University of Cambridge > > Quantitative History Seminar > Saved by the British Empire: how the US escaped the Great Depression

Saved by the British Empire: how the US escaped the Great Depression

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This paper presents a new set of data on installed machine-tools in the metalworking sector that goes a long way towards remedying the long-standing knowledge gap on the evolution of US installed capital over the late 1930s and early 1940s that has crippled analyses of productivity dynamics in the central part of the twentieth century. On the basis of these new data, I challenge recent positive assessments of productivity in the 1930s (Field 2011), and re-formulate the case for the central contribution of WW2 to the end of the Great Depression on the basis of a export-led supply boom. Yet, by the same token, the war-related investment effort of the period 1939-1943 contributed little to the revival of the US peace economy in the late 1940s.

This talk is part of the Quantitative History Seminar series.

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