economic graph usa 1900 to 2003 : LUSENET : Economic History (and Related Observations) : One Thread

i am very interested in the economic cycles of the usa during the last century in order to determine what factors impacted changes of highs, lows and steady growth.

-- dancing cloud (, October 17, 2003


You can find some really good, brief raw data from the national Bureau for Economic Research at

or you can visit the Gold Standard of online economic data and go to try this

You cannot cut-and-paste from economagic unless you pay a small fee.

When studying long term trends especially trade cycles three things should always be present in the back of your mind

First: Economists measure the economy as GDP and GDP equals spending and only spending on NEW goods and services. While the GDP is a probably the best economic INDICATOR available it is just an indicator. You can be mired in debt, you could be selling off your house your car your 401k (and anything else that does not count as a new good or service), but as long as you are spending money on new stuff the GDP (and the world of economists) would say that your doing fine. Typically that would be true, but keep the “deep in debt selling off your assets” idea in the back of your mind if the data stop making sense.

Second: Whether Keynesian, Classical, Monetarist or Austrian economic cycles are typically viewed in relation to money supply, M1, M2, M3 and monetary base). In fact most economists probably agree that money supply is not just an indicator it is the CAUSE of economic boom and bust. Some economists think the Fed is better at managing the money supply (and thus boom and bust) than the free market would be. Others disagree. You might even come up a theory that traces boom and bust to something other than money supply but you’ll have a good deal of trouble getting most economists to abandon this long held belief.

Third A landmark 1982 article by Charles Nelson of U Washington and Charles Plosser of U Rochester, which provides strong evidence of a serious and permanent decline in American productivity beginning with the 1973-75 recession. The peaks and the dips after this watershed changes will both be on a separate scale with those before. A lot of huge economic changes took place in the 5-10 years preceding this watershed change in the US economy. There were HUGE changes in environmental laws, workers protection, and payroll taxes. It is also, the beginning of the modern deficit era, the Vietnam war era, a period when Germany and Japan rebuilt their economies and started competing with US Steel and Auto manufacturers, the time when Asia began to rise and the beginning of OPEC. Nelson and Plosser believe that OPEC was the primary contributor to the American economic decline. Whether you accept their cause or some mix of other causes the pre 1973 scale is different than the post 1975 scale.

Hope this helps


-- Bob Hyneman, big fan of JB Say (, October 22, 2003.

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