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King's law and food storage in Saxony, c. 1790-1830

Martin Uebele, Tim Grünebaum and Michael Kopsidis ()

No 2613, CQE Working Papers from Center for Quantitative Economics (CQE), University of Muenster

Abstract: This article presents new data on grain production, storage and prices in Saxony between 1789 and 1830. We contribute to three interrelated debates. First, we discuss whether monthly price increases were sufficient to cover storage costs, and how they relate to storage levels at the end of the harvest year. Second, we estimate price elasticity of demand, a test of “King’s Law”. Finally, we investigate the main determinants of grain storage in a framework that takes reverse causality into account. We find that price fluctuations within the harvest year were consistent with interest rates of about 5%. On the second subject, our findings are mainly consistent with “King’s Law”, according to which price elasticity of demand is relatively low with -0.4, and reject higher estimates of the recent literature. Finally, we show that storage quantity reacted in the predicted way to price shocks but way about as much driven by harvest variations. Between harvests, storage indeed smoothed food supply over time as theory predicts, however to a limited extent.

JEL-codes: A (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 31 pages
Date: 2013-07
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr and nep-his
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