Market_Intervention_in_a_Backward_Econo

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Economic History Review , LI, 3(1998), pp. 542–568 Market intervention in a backward economy: railway subsidy in Brazil, 1854-1913 1 By WILLIAM R. SUMMERHILL T he implications of government transport subsidies for economic growth in the nineteenth century have long captivated economic historians. Extant research on subsidies focuses largely on transport poli- cies in the United States and Canada. 2 There is comparatively little work on similar policies in relatively backward economies, and none measuring the economic consequences of public transport subsidies elsewhere in the Americas. 3 Throughout Latin America internal improvements during the nineteenth century—often financed from abroad—appeared only on the heels of government subsidy arrangements. Brazilian railways serve as a major case in point. Market intervention and foreign investment were hallmark features of the Brazilian economy through the turn of the century. This was especially true of railway development. No sector of
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