Integration in European coal markets, 1833–1913†

Authors:
John E. Murray, Javier Silvestre
Published Online:
17 Feb 2020
DOI:
10.1111/ehr.12937
Pages:
668-702
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 73 Issue 3

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Abstract This article analyses coal market integration in Europe over the long nineteenth century. The market integration of coal, a key commodity associated with the industrial revolution, is an aspect of European economic history that has received little attention. The literature on the evolution of markets has concentrated on agricultural products, mostly cereals. This article examines intra‐ and international market integration in the principal coal‐producing countries, Britain, Germany, France, and Belgium; and adds three main consuming southern European countries to the analysis of the international market. It provides new evidence on prices, as well as trade, and uses a straightforward approach to address coal price behaviour. Despite shocks, clear trends toward integration in both domestic and international markets can be observed, even if by one of our measures the latter started at a later date. Processes of market integration, however, seemed to slow from the end of the nineteenth century. Explanations are offered as to the causes of the extent and timing of integrations: reductions, mainly, in transportation costs, but also in information costs, and, in the international market, protectionism. The influence of cartels, on the other hand, may have been limited, particularly in the international market.

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