In 1880s Prices Fell Because of Technological Progress

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Michael Perelman has strongly suggested that I read David Well’s book. It is on my “to do” list.

(p. C10) The dull title of “Recent Economic Changes” does no justice to David A. Wells’s fascinating contemporary account of a deflationary miasma that settled over the world’s advanced economies in the 1880s. His cheery conclusion: Prices were falling because technology was progressing. What had pushed the price of a bushel of wheat down to 67 cents in 1887 from $1.10 in 1882 was nothing more sinister than the opening up of new regions to cultivation (Australia, the Dakotas) and astounding improvements in agricultural machinery.

For the full review, see:
JAMES GRANT. “FIVE BEST; Little-Known Gold From the Gilded Age.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., AUGUST 6, 2011): C10.

Source of book under review:
Wells, David A. Recent Economic Changes and Their Effect on Production and Distribution of Wealth and Well-Being of Society. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1889.

Michael Perelman argues that in Recent Economic Changes, David Wells anticipates the substance, although not the wording, of Schumpeter’s “creative destruction”:
Perelman, Michael. “Schumpeter, David Wells, and Creative Destruction.” The Journal of Economic Perspectives 9, no. 3 (Summer 1995): 189-97.

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