(Here’s the article that goes with this appendix.)
While 1920s economic data is imperfect, I pieced together Tables 1 through 3 from sources that are generally considered authoritative. The data is also consistent with narrative accounts of the period. That said, I’m open to other suggestions.
Here are the sources:
- Employment figures are from Chapter VI of a 1929 National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) book titled Recent Economic Changes in the United States, Report of the Committee on Recent Economic Changes of the President’s Conference on Unemployment.
- While this book reports data from four different sources, I used the lowest job loss figure (which was compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics) to calculate the rise in the unemployment rate.
- The employment-to-population ratio is estimated by the Brookmire Economic Service and also reported in Recent Economic Changes in the United States.
- Inflation figures are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
- Because the Fed targets core rather than headline inflation, I checked BLS figures against the five inflation components (electricity, food at home, rent, house furnishings and apparel) reported in the Census Bureau‘s Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970.
- Each of the non-core categories (rent, house furnishings and apparel) showed deflation of at least 1% per year in 1926, 1927 and 1928.
- In other words, the check confirmed that deflation wasn’t confined to food and energy.
- GNP growth is from the NBER Macro History, Chapter VIII.
- Agricultural production is from Chapter XII of Recent Economic Changes in the United States.
- House prices, stock prices and P/E multiples are from the database that Robert Shiller constructed for his bestseller, Irrational Exuberance.
- Income inequality estimates are from Facundo Alvaredo, Anthony B. Atkinson, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, “The Top 1 Percent in International and Historical Perspective,” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper Series, Working Paper 19075.