American Growth and the Balance of Payments, 1820-1913: A Study of the Long Swing

By Jeffrey G. Williamson | Go to book overview

APPENDIX A
THE NATURE OF THE DATA

Net Capital Movements

Needless to say, in order for an analysis of secular movements in nineteenth-century American capital flows to be at all meaningful, we must be convinced of the reliability of the historical balance-of-payments data (see Table B-1).1 It must be emphasized at the outset that it would be much too demanding to expect substantiation of the annual net capital movements estimates (hereafter called K). First, verification of annual estimates of K would be desirable but unnecessary, given the scope of this inquiry, for we are concerned with long secular swings in the United States balance of payments. Second, it is not the purpose of this book to re-do the tremendous amount of excellent paleontological work

____________________
1
Although there have been others, the most recent and presumably the most reliable estimates of nineteenth-century American balance of payments have been constructed by Douglass C. North in "The United States Balance of Payments, 1790-1860", Trends in the American Economy in the Nineteenth Century ( "Studies in Income and Wealth", Vol. XXIV [ Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1960]), pp. 573-627 (this volume is hereafter cited as Trends), and by Matthew Simon in Trends, pp. 629-715. We have depended heavily on these estimates throughout the research. For the period 1901-1918 prior to the publication of official (but not necessarily accurate) statistics, we have used Raymond W. Goldsmith's estimates of capital movements which appear in his A Study of Saving in the United States ( Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1955).

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