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

Lessons from the financial preparations in the lead-up to the first world war

Harold James 09 July 2014

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The 1907 panic emanated from the US but affected the rest of the world and demonstrated the fragility of the whole international financial order. The aftermath of the 1907 crash drove the then hegemonic power – Great Britain – to reflect on how it could use its financial power. There is a close link between the aftermath of a great financial crisis and the escalation of diplomatic tensions that led to war in 1914.

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Topics:  Economic history

Tags:  Germany, US, WWI, Great Britain

August 1914 and the end of unrestricted mass migration

Drew Keeling 23 June 2014

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The war declarations of August 1914 spelled far-reaching alteration to the fundamental character of modern long-distance international mass migration. For most of the preceding century, in the majority of big economies international human relocation had been largely peaceful, voluntary, and motivated by market incentives. Since 1914, it has been mostly shaped by politically determined quotas and legal restrictions, or driven by flight from war, oppression or similarly fearsome dangers and disasters (Hatton and Williamson 2005, Massey 2000).

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Topics:  Migration

Tags:  WWI, migration policies changes

Four myths about the Great War of 1914-1918

Mark Harrison 03 June 2014

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As its centennial approaches, the events of the Great War have worldwide resonance. Most obviously, is China the Germany of today? Will China’s rise, unlike Germany’s, remain peaceful? The journalist Gideon Rachman wrote last year (Financial Times, February 4, 2013):

“The analogy [of China today] with Germany before the first world war is striking … It is, at least, encouraging that the Chinese leadership has made an intense study of the rise of great powers over the ages – and is determined to avoid the mistakes of both Germany and Japan.”

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Topics:  Economic history Europe's nations and regions

Tags:  Germany, WWI, Versailles treaty, reparations