“How do Trade Frictions Differentially Impact Trade Outcomes? Lessons from the US Transportation Revolution”

I explore US commodity market integration through price convergence, efficiency, and intertemporal smoothing across a wide basket of goods from 1750-1949. I find consistent price convergence throughout, with rates notably faster than in Europe from 1750-1774 and 1855-1910. I find the fastest convergence for the frontier and high weight-to-value goods. Efficiency is also higher than in war-torn Europe from 1750-1820 and consistently increases throughout the sample until plateauing around 1900. The gains in efficiency also occur earlier than previously understood, with large improvements before 1820. Finally, seasonal smoothing is relatively constant for all but the most perishable goods, whose seasonal amplitudes become larger as production increases and transportation costs fall. This is not fully halted until the 1920s when cold storage becomes more accessible and agricultural practices improve.

“How Do Information Frictions Impact Trade? Evidence from the Telegraph”
Working Paper

This paper explores how information frictions distort price and export behaviors. I use the spread of the telegraph across the United States as an historical experiment that exogenously decreased news lags across markets. I use the resulting variation in daily news lags to test Steinwender’s (2018) model of arbitrage in the presence of information frictions. My results for the cotton trade between New Orleans and New York are broadly consistent with her model – I find the telegraph decreased price differentials by 21.2%, decreased the variance of these differentials by 62.4%, increased export volatility by 42.3%, and increased exports by 5.6%. These results suggest the importance of traditionally unobserved trade frictions, such as information lags, in determining economic outcomes.

“Impacts of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff: Evidence from Microdata”
Work in Progress

This paper uses a broad panel of imports to determine the degree to which Smoot-Hawley distorted tariff burdens and import volumes. The balanced panel is the largest of its kind, consisting of 926 goods between 1926 and 1933. This panel allows me to leverage microeconometric techniques and to analyze a wider array of industries than previous literature. I find Smoot-Hawley can only explain about 30% of the increase in tariffs on dutiable imports and 5% of the decline in aggregate import volumes, while the remainder can be explained by nominal distortions and changes in national income. These results are broadly consistent with the previous literature by Crucini (1994) and Irwin (1998b).

“The Grand Experiment: introducing a common currency to the United States”
Work in Progress

This paper examines how the introduction of the US dollar as a common currency impacted trade frictions and monetary stability within the post-Revolutionary United States. A newly digitized dataset of historical micro-prices is used to measure the impacts of decreased transaction costs and the increased centralization of monetary control associated with the issuance of a common currency.