Research


How Do US Commodity Markets Evolve over 200 Years? Evidence from a Time Series Decomposition (R&R Explorations in Economic History)

Link

I explore US commodity market integration from 1750-1949 through the lens of price convergence, efficiency, and intertemporal smoothing. Price convergence and efficiency improve consistently throughout the panel, with faster improvements among frontier locations and high weight-to-value goods. Rates of US convergence are notably higher than those in Europe from 1750-1774 and 1855-1910. The gains in efficiency also occur earlier than previously understood, with large improvements before 1820. Finally, seasonal fluctuations in prices were remarkably stable except for the most perishable goods which became more volatile until the improvements in cold storage and animal husbandry in the 1920s.


Putting the News in New York and New Orleans: The Impact of Information Frictions on Trade

Link

This paper exploits the telegraphic connection between New Orleans and New York to estimate the impact of information frictions on the cotton trade. My regression specifications are based on Steinwender’s (2018) model of arbitrage with information frictions. I find the telegraph increased export volatility by 51.2 percent, increased the average level of exports by 29.4 percent, reduced the volatility of price differentials by 32.4 percent, and had no impact on price differentials.


Sugar Highs and Sugar Lows: U.S. Interwar Tariff Policy and Cuba’s Great Depression with Mario Crucini

Work in Progress

Much of the literature on the macroeconomic effects of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act has focused on its impact on the US and, to a lesser extent, major industrial trading partners. However, with the US trade share fluctuating near 4-5%, even the large increases in protectionism are predicted to cause at most a garden-variety post-war recession (Crucini and Kahn (1996)), not a Great Depression. Instead, this work focuses on a small commodity-export dependent country, Cuba, which depended upon sugar for almost half of its GDP, with 76% of its product exported to the US. Unlike the US, it seems quite plausible that Cuba’s Great Depression was significantly due to US commercial policy. The paper focuses on a detailed historical narrative on the multi-country production and trade patterns of sugar and the time-varying nature of commercial policy due to specific (nominally rigid duties) in propagating the Cuban business cycle. A multi-region business cycle model is proposed that combines a macroeconomic model of the US business cycle with a micro-founded model of Cuban and insular US production and trade of sugar, in exchange for US manufactures.


Righting the Vote: How the Voting Rights Act of 1975 Changed Hispanic Representation among Local Elected Officials with Aaron Gamiño

Work in Progress

The Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1975 extended voting protections to millions of Hispanics; however, its impact has often been overlooked in the literature. We estimate the causal impact of the 1975 VRA on the share of Hispanic officeholders at the county and municipal level from 1973-1989. We employ a triple-difference design to leverage variation in the geographic coverage of the VRA along with the Hispanic population share in each covered county. We find increases in county and municipal officeholding in executive, legislative, administrative, and judicial positions. We then find this improved Hispanic representation led to changes in spending patterns at the county and municipal levels.