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American tariff policy and the British alkali industry, 1880-1905

Varian, Brian (2014) American tariff policy and the British alkali industry, 1880-1905. Economic History Working Paper Series (189/2014). The London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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Abstract

Until the late nineteenth century, the British alkali industry enjoyed a colossal export market in the United States. Yet, as several scholars have already noted, the highly protectionist Dingley Tariff of 1897 caused a precipitous and irreversible decline in the volume of British alkali exports to the United States. Drawing upon an abundance of textual evidence, this study argues that, in addition to the climactic Dingley Tariff, previous American tariff acts in 1883, 1890, and 1894 also exerted a pronounced influence on the volume of British alkali exports to the United States. Further corroborating this claim is a regression analysis that employs, as an explanatory variable, newly constructed annual estimates of the ad valorem equivalent tariff that the United States imposed upon alkali imports from Britain. Approaching the British alkali industry from a microeconomic standpoint, this study also argues that one particular British alkali firm, Brunner, Mond & Co., mitigated its financial exposure to American tariff policy by acquiring, in 1887, a minority shareholding in a nascent American alkali firm, the Solvay Process Company. Profits from Brunner’s shareholding in the Solvay Process Company substantially offset the profits that Brunner, Mond & Co. lost as the result of its diminished alkali exports to the United States. The other dominant British alkali firm, the United Alkali Company, did not fare so well.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL: http://www.lse.ac.uk/economicHistory/home.aspx
Additional Information: © 2014 The Author
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
JEL classification: N - Economic History > N6 - Manufacturing and Construction > N61 - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
N - Economic History > N6 - Manufacturing and Construction > N63 - Europe: Pre-1913
N - Economic History > N7 - Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, Technology, and Other Services > N71 - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
N - Economic History > N7 - Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, Technology, and Other Services > N73 - Europe: Pre-1913
N - Economic History > N8 - Micro-Business History > N81 - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
N - Economic History > N8 - Micro-Business History > N83 - Europe: Pre-1913
Sets: Departments > Economic History
Collections > Economists Online
Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2014 11:56
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2019 04:43
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/56334

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