Price series of agricultural products are one of the few types of time series available for the description of economic activity in the preindustrial world. Therefore, they have always attracted the interest of economic historians dealing with this period. In addition to newly constructed time series of rye prices in an important economic region in preindustrial Europe, we present corresponding data on grain output based on tithe statistics. The data are analyzed using new univariate and multivariate spectral techniques. The main finding is that the price series exhibit genuine cyclical movements, which can be explained to a large extent as harvest cycles. The cycles vary over the period under consideration. The existence of similar patterns in grain price data developed by others as well as the correlation of prices in various regions of Germany is demonstrated. © 1996 Academic Press, Inc.
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