The telegraph, co-ordination of tramp shipping, and growth in world trade, 1870 1910
The growth of trade after 1860 has been attributed to declining tariffs, to falling transport costs, and, recently, to monetary arrangements. However, coincident with the rise of trade the second half of the nineteenth century saw the development of the first electric communication network: the telegraph. The first successful trans-oceanic cable was operating in 1865. The telegraph remained the only direct trans-oceanic communication link until into the twentieth century. Little research has been conducted explicitly linking the impact of telegraphs on international shipping and international trade. A panel is used to show that there is a correlation between the diffusion of the telegraph, co-ordination of shipping, and the growth of world trade even controlling for the impact of other well-studied effects. The telegraph reduced the time ships spent in port and allowed ships to travel farther among ports to collect more valuable cargo.
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