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NBER Working Paper No. 8692 Issued in December 2001 NBER Program(s): DAE ITI The United States came close to complete autarky in 1808 as a result of a self-imposed embargo on international shipping from December 1807 to March 1809. Monthly prices of exported and imported goods reveal the embargo's striking effect on commodity markets and allow a calculation of its welfare effects. A simple general equilibrium calculation suggests that the embargo cost about 8 percent of America's 1807 GNP, at a time when the trade share was about 13 percent (domestic exports and shipping earnings). The welfare cost was lower than the trade share because the embargo did not completely eliminate trade and because domestic producers successfully shifted production toward previously imported manufactured goods.
+ Author Affiliations This article explores the means by which warfare influences domestic commodity markets. It is argued that England during the French Wars provides an ideal testing ground. Four categories of explanatory variables are taken as likely sources of documented changes in English commodity price disintegration during this period: weather, trade, policy and wartime events.