*The Big Ditch*

The authors are Noel Maurer and Carlos Yu and the subtitle of this excellent book is How American Took, Built, Ran, and Ultimately Gave Away the Panama Canal.  In the old days they might have called this book The Panama Canal.  Excerpt:

In 1920, when the Panama Canal first opened to commercial traffic, real freight rates between Britain (Liverpool) and the West Coast of the United States (Portland, Oregon) dropped 27 percent.  In 1921, the canal's first year of operation, real shipping costs dropped another 35 percent…by 1922, shipping costs had fallen 31 percent below their prewar average.

Within a few years, oil prices in California and Texas had converged.  The authors estimate a social rate of return of nine percent for the first two decades of the canal's existence and they do include the costs of defending it.

In my view, whether as tourists, economists, or historians, people do not spend enough time thinking about the Panama Canal.  Here is the book's home page.


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