This study uses prices for the German 3 percent imperial loan issued in several tranches since 1890 and still traded during World War I to measure capital market players’ real-time perceptions of the prospects for Germany as the war proceeded. Price data are gathered from the Amsterdam market for government bonds; the Netherlands remained neutral throughout war. Focusing on the window from August 24th 1915 to August 11th 1919, ten (twelve) turning points are identified in a baseline (extended) model. Each implies a significant adjustment of lenders’ confidence in Germany being able, or willing, to service its debts in the future. Two turning points stand out. In early January 1916, the price plummeted by 14.3 percent between the first and eleventh of the month, which was most likely due to the Military Service Act discussed in the British parliament. On September 19th 1918, the price dropped by 17.5 percent compared to the last available price quote from the end of July. This coincides with the Allied Powers’ revival on all fronts since the summer, leading to the ultimate collapse of the German lines.
The United Nations’ Human Development Index (HDI) has become an important tool for measuring and comparing living standards between countries and regions. However, the HDI has also attracted a fair share of conceptual criticism. Starting from Andrea Wagner’s historical estimations of a HDI for Germany in the interwar and early postwar period, we take up part of that criticism by implementing three essential modifications to the mode of calculation. We test how far they alter our picture of the relative living standard in the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, and the Federal Republic of Germany. First, we replace the arithmetic mean by the geometric mean, which is said to solve the problem of perfect substitutability; second, we extend the HDI by an additional fourth dimension measuring economic and political freedom – an important, though neglected, dimension; and third, as the perhaps most crucial conceptual intervention, we develop weighting schemes for the partial indices that are theoretically backed by happiness economic research. Thus, we challenge the common, but arbitrary fundamental assumption that all partial indices receive equal weights. Our results show that the HDI for Germany reacts very sensitively to conceptual interventions, making it difficult to use it for the intertemporal and international comparison of living standards. We also find that the proposed modified HDIs allow for a re-evaluation of the living standard in interwar Germany; and in contrast to what the reference estimations on the HDI for Germany say, there is a profound discontinuity between the Third Reich and post-war Germany in terms of living standards.
World War I was fought by numerous countries siding together as the Central Powers and, respectively, the Allied Powers. The former began with the German Empire and Austria-Hungary and grew to four allies when the Ottoman Empire entered the scene in late 1914 and Bulgaria in late 1915; the latter centred on the alliance between England, France, and Russia and was informally extended to many more countries as they entered into the war ad-hoc by signalling common interests with the core Allied Powers. This article addresses a neglected dimension of the alliance formation phenomenon, namely how alliances were perceived by the public, in contrast to the perceptions of political and military leaders. Were the Central and Allied Powers perceived to be credible alliances – monolithic blocks – in the eyes of contemporaries? We seek to determine the degree of “alliance integration” among pairs of countries by applying cointegration analysis based on prices for securities. It is assumed that the prices of countries perceived as “integrated” should show signs of co-movement. In particular, we focus on the Amsterdam market for foreign government bonds providing us with a neutral perspective. Our analysis is based on the yields for representative bonds traded by 13 belligerent countries not only during the war, but also before and after. Among other findings, we cannot corroborate that investors simply recognized two monolithic blocks fighting the war against each other.
Capacity utilization, scale efficiency or technical change? Which factors determined total factor productivity of the large corporations in Ruhr coal mining in the interwar period (1919–1938)?
Business and economic historians in Germany still face quite substantial informational gaps when it comes to assessing firms’ historical performance. While the use of indicators derived from external accounting or the capital market is common, indicators relating more closely to the sphere of production are often neglected, not the least because of data insufficiencies or the effort involved in collecting suitable data. For 15 mining corporations that can be associated with the 100 largest corporations in Germany as of 1938 according to Fiedler (1999), this article documents and interprets estimates of firm-specific total factor productivity and its components for the interwar period.
Historiker können heute auf einen gut gefüllten methodischen Werkzeugkasten zurückgreifen. Seit der Etablierung der Sozialgeschichte als „Historische Sozialwissenschaft“ in den 1970er Jahren gehören dazu neben qualitativ-hermeneutischen Ansätzen grundsätzlich auch quantitativ-statistische Methoden. Viele Quellen lassen einen quantitativen Analyseansatz zumindest zu; andere (z. B. Massendaten) sind ohne die Anwendung entsprechender Methoden gar nicht gewinnbringend auswertbar. Doch wie stark ist die Anwendung quantitativer Methoden in der deutschsprachigen Geschichtswissenschaft eigentlich verbreitet (gewesen)? Während der Einsatz statistischer Verfahren seit den Tagen der „Bielefelder Schule“ durch immer leistungsfähigere und zugleich anwenderfreundlichere Software prinzipiell viel einfacher geworden ist, scheinen quantitative Ansätze in nur wenigen historischen Teildisziplinen verbreitet zu sein. Ein Grund könnte die Skepsis gegenüber quantitativen Methoden von Seiten der Vertreter der „Neuen Kulturgeschichte“ sein. Wissenschaftshistorisch-empirisch ist dieser Aspekt jedoch kaum erforscht. Unsere Studie möchte diese Forschungslücke ein Stück weit schließen. Dazu haben wir ein umfangreiches Zeitschriftenkorpus (u. a. die HZ beinhaltend) erhoben, das es uns erlaubt, das Ausmaß quantitativen Arbeitens in der deutschsprachigen Historiographie für den Zeitraum 1951–2016 näher zu bestimmen. Wir argumentieren sowohl quantitativ als auch qualitativ und kombinieren dazu einen einfachen „Abzähl-Ansatz“ (Zählung der Tabellen und Grafiken in allen erhobenen Zeitschriften) mit einem komplexeren lexikografischen Ansatz. Unsere Ergebnisse stützen insgesamt die These, dass der cultural turn den aufkommenden Trend zu mehr Quantifizierung in Teilen der Geschichtswissenschaft wieder umkehrte. Die Bestimmung der „Konjunktur der Quantifizierung“ birgt aber auch manche Überraschung.