Geographic spillovers : learning spillovers in wartime shipbuilding & pricing spillovers in natural gas markets
Sickles, Robin; Brown, Bryan; Gruber, Ira
Doctor of Philosophy
The role of geography in two distinct economic settings is considered. In the first case, the impact of geographic distance is assessed as it relates to the benefit of cumulative productive experience (the ‘learning curve’) in the manufacturing of World War 2 Liberty ships. Unit level production from the period is exploited to consider whether worker experience is transferred and persisted across different geographical regions. Furthermore, the relative impact of both proximal and distant simultaneous production is considered. These findings are then considered in a technical efficiency frontier framework to determine both the cause of inefficiencies in shipyards as well as to answer interesting historical questions about the nature of relative proficiency in production of the major regions of the United States. The conclusions are that there is an inverse relationship between the strength of spillovers and distance. Furthermore, temporary suspensions in output of an assembly line drive up labor requirements on subsequent units. Finally, increases in labor turnover decrease subsequent labor inefficiency. In the second case, time series analysis is employed to consider pricing spillovers in the North American natural gas markets. Four distinct types of gas markets are considered: intra-regional, inter-regional, forward, and pairwise spot to forward. Each market is considered in a cointegrated framework to reveal the degree of market integration in gas markets. The implications of the long-term relationships estimated are explained. Furthermore, questions of the proper direction of causality and of market exclusion and exogeneity are tested and answered. The results support the hypothesis of a firmly integrated national market for natural gas. This integration is very strong both regionally and nationally in spot markets. In forward markets, integration is still present and strong, but is slightly weaker than spot markets. Lastly, there are strong common trends across the dimension of time in each of the markets considered.