The halo of victory: What Americans learned from World War I

Hugh Rockoff 04 October 2014

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World War I had important consequences for the structure of the US economy and its role in the world economy. This was especially true in the world of finance. The US transitioned from being a debtor nation to a creditor nation, and financial leadership moved from London to New York. But equally important were the lessons that Americans drew from the war. Although the war had much to teach, Americans tended, I will argue below, to learn too much from the war, drawing strong conclusions from a war in which the US was actively engaged for only 19 months.

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Topics:  Competition policy Economic history

Tags:  World War I, WWI, planning, rationing, New Deal, Great Depression, fiscal policy, monetary policy, stimulus, financial crisis, conscription, inflation, unemployment, price controls, Competition policy, antitrust, National Industrial Recovery Act

Endowments for war in 1914

Avner Offer 19 September 2014

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World War I was a mistake. Its consequences were not part of anybody’s expectations (excepting Stead and Bloch 1899) – certainly not of those who set it off, although there was an undertone of fatalism in their decisions (Offer 1995). If one side had possessed an unassailable superiority, then there would have been no call for war. The war’s duration indicates that the sides were matched, that the outcome was uncertain, and that instigating war was therefore a colossal gamble – and, as it turned out, a bad one. The decisions for war were irresponsible, incompetent, and worse.

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Topics:  Economic history Energy

Tags:  WWI, World War I, war, imperialism, nationalism, energy, Agriculture, technology, technological change, innovation, conscription, Inequality, rationing

Walking wounded: The British economy in the aftermath of World War I

Nicholas Crafts 27 August 2014

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World War I was not over by Christmas of 1914. It was a prolonged, brutal, and expensive conflict.  Britain incurred 715,000 military deaths (with more than twice that number wounded), the destruction of 3.6% of its human capital, 10% of its domestic and 24% of its overseas assets, and spent well over 25% of its GDP on the war effort between 1915 and 1918 (Broadberry and Harrison, 2005).  Yet that was far from the sum of the losses that the Great War inflicted on the British economy; economic damage continued to accrue throughout the 1920s and beyond. 

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Topics:  Economic history

Tags:  World War I, unemployment

Short poppies: The height of World War I servicemen

Timothy J Hatton 09 May 2014

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The last century has seen unprecedented increases in the heights of adults (Bleakley et al., 2013). Among young men in western Europe, that increase amounts to about four inches. On average, sons have been taller than their fathers for the last five generations. These gains in height are linked to improvements in health and longevity.

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Topics:  Frontiers of economic research Health economics

Tags:  Height, socioeconomic conditions, World War I