Two Great Trade Collapses: The Interwar Period & Great Recession Compared

48 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2017 Last revised: 8 Aug 2021

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Date Written: September 2017

Abstract

In this paper, I offer some preliminary comparisons between the trade collapses of the Great Depression and Great Recession. The commodity composition of the two trade collapses was quite similar, but the latter collapse was much sharper due to the spread of manufacturing across the globe during the intervening period. The increasing importance of manufacturing also meant that the trade collapse was more geographically balanced in the later episode. Protectionism was much more severe during the 1930s than after 2008, and in the UK case at least helped to skew the direction of trade away from multilateralism and towards Empire. This had dangerous political consequences.

Suggested Citation

O'Rourke, Kevin, Two Great Trade Collapses: The Interwar Period & Great Recession Compared (September 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23825, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3038613

Kevin O'Rourke (Contact Author)

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

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