Monetary History Study Group

Economic History Seminar on March 20, 2019

Co-Hosted by Waseda Institute of Political Economy (WINPEC)
and Financial History Group of Japan Society of Monetary Economics (JSME)

We are honored to host a seminar by Professor Hugh Rockoff (Rutgers University; President-Elect, 2019-2020, Economic History Association) on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Everybody who are interested in the issue are welcome. Please sign up now!

Date:March 20, 2019, 16:00 – 17:30

Venue:Room 909 (9th floor), Building 3, Waseda Campus, Waseda University

Presenter:Hugh Rockoff, Distinguished Professor of Economics, Rutgers University

Subjects:On the Controversies behind the Origins of the Federal Economic Statistics

Although attempts to measure trends in prices, output, and employment can be traced back for centuries, in the main the origins of the U.S. federal statistics are to be found in bitter debates over economic policy, ultimately debates over the distribution of income, at the end of the nineteenth century and during the world wars and Great Depression. Participants in those debates hoped that statistics that were widely accepted as nonpolitical and accurate would prove that their grievances were just and provide support for the policies they advocated. Economists – including luminaries such as Irving Fisher, Wesley C. Mitchell, and Simon Kuznets – responded by developing the methodology for computing index numbers and estimates of national income. Initially, individuals and private organizations provided these statistics, but by the end of WWII the federal government had taken over the role. Here I briefly describe the cases of prices, GDP, and unemployment.

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