On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Discussions on the economic history of the nations taking part in WW2, from the recovery after the depression until the economy at war.
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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Richard Anderson » 09 Sep 2016 19:24

So after the Great War, most armies developed a "paired" employment concept for field artillery grouped in light, medium, and heavy classes. This is what drove planning for munitions production, but like most things, it was refined and slightly different as it was actually used as opposed to the theoretical concept. So, for Germans and Americans, the evolution was basically:

Light artillery for direct support of the maneuver elements of a division, which was the basic tactical unit. It was originally to be comprised of 75mm guns and 105mm howitzers, but by the outbreak of war the concept had evolved to be just 105mm howitzers with general support from 150/155mm howitzers. Gun support for the division in most cases would be provided by field artillery units either directly attached or assigned to general support of the unit by the commanding army/corps. That support usually took the form of medium artillery.

Medium artillery for direct and general supporting reinforcing the fires of the divisional artillery was an army asset either attached or assigned to the division. For the US the concept was the 155mm howitzer and 4.7" gun. In practice, the 4.7" gun was partly replaced by the 4.5" gun, but more generally by the 155mm gun (which technically was considered a heavy). For the Germans it was the 15cm s.F.H. and the 10cm s.K.

Heavy artillery reinforced corps fires for specific operational requirements. For the US the concept was the 8" howitzer and 155mm gun, which was carried out in practice. The Germans had greater difficulty, originally conceiving the 15cm K18 paired with the 21cm Mrs.18 (notice the commonality of the "18"?) However they were never really satisfied with the 15cm gun, so moved to the much better 17cm K18, which used the same carriage as the Mrs. 18, which is why it was called the K18 in Mrs.Laf. (Notice the similarity with the US using "paired" carriages?)

Ammunition production in these classes is what is important, since that production actually fits the employment concept of the weapons systems. Arbitrary mathematical divisions to suit specific argumentative agendas simply doesn't tell us much about the subject. German production of the heavy artillery classes was never adequate for their requirements and medium artillery was also a problem. The result was large-scale dependence on captured weapons, which then forced the Germans to allocate ammunition production to those classes, increasing the logistical problem while also increasing the load placed on industry.
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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Guaporense » 13 Sep 2016 06:18

Guaporense wrote:Estimating GDPs
These are the figures for the territories in each coalition:

Image
I did some revisions (I found some mistakes in the paper Fukua, Ma, Yuan (2007)), here is the result, for the same set of countries:

Axis ------ 22,088 million 1927 pounds
Allies ---- 26,081 million 1927 pounds

Axis/Allies = 84.69%

Maddison's estimates, for the same territories:

Axis ---- 1,216,702 million 1990 dollars
Allies -- 1,432,194 million 1990 dollars

Axis/Allies = 84.95%

The Axis' territories do not include countries allied such as Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and occupied territories of Greece, Norway, Poland, Yugoslavia and Bohemia-Moravia. Allied territories do not include Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Guaporense » 15 Sep 2016 07:11

Another revision: I used Harrison's estimates of USSR's GDP vis the Russian Empire and converted the USSR's GDP using the official 1913 exchange rate of 9.53 rubles to the pound (then adjusted the pound from 1913 to 1927 using the UK's GDP deflator). Then, I also calculated the GDPs of Canada and Australia using Willianson (1995)'s figures. I also re-estimated Japan's GDP using "Estimates of Long-Term Economic Statistics of Japan since 1868", edited by Kazushi Ohkawa with the PPPs in Fukao, Ma, Yuan (2007) to the dollar and the dollar converted into pounds using Willianson (1995)'s PPP.

France's GDP figures are from Toutain (1987) and they are factor cost figures instead of market prices ones so I adjusted France's GDP in proportion to the relative ratio of UK's GDPs from factor cost to market prices (a difference of about 10%).

With everything together, I have these figures for 1927 (I think it's a better benchmark year than 1939 because it was before the Great Depression and after Europe recovered (partially) from WW1:

Territories under Axis control:

Germany ---------- 5,153
France ------------ 3,831
Italy --------------- 2,353
Japan ------------- 1,466
occupied USSR -- 1,000
Netherlands -------- 748
Belgium ------------ 665
Denmark ----------- 464
Korea --------------- 138
Taiwan -------------- 79

Total ------------ 15,899

Territories under Allied control:

USA -------------- 12,726
UK ---------------- 4,613
USSR -------------- 3,000
Canada -------------- 981
Australia ------------ 627

Total --------------- 21,947

Yep, USSR's GDP was a round 4 billion pounds in 1927 using the 1913 exchange rates.


Sadly, Willianson didn't provide PPPs for Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Greece, Yugoslavia, Romania, Finland, Bulgaria and Norway, to get a more complete picture of Axis' economic potential. Though I don't known if there even exists nominal GDP figures for these countries in the interwar period (Maddison is known to simply make up figures using his intuition regarding economic history). Anyway, for these corresponding countries I would guess a total GDP of ca. 2,600 million pounds (ca. 700 million pounds for Poland, 400 million for Czechoslovakia, 250 million for Austria, 300 million for Hungary and Romania, 200 million for Greece, 150 million for Finland, Bulgaria and Norway). Which means the Axis gets 18,500 million pounds to the 22,000 million pounds of the Allies. That''s 84% of the Allies' GDP for the pre-great depression epoch.

Better economic odds than WW1, in my new revised figures in millions of 1905 pounds for 1913:

Central powers:

Germany -------------- 3,042
Austria-Hungary ------- 1,179
Belgium ----------------- 406
total --------------------- 4,627

Entente powers:

USA --------------------- 5,229
UK ---------------------- 2,380
Russia ------------------ 2,267
France ----------------- 1,697
Italy ---------------------- 878
total ------------------- 12,451

So the central powers only had 37% of the Entente's economic resources. Although the US and Russia were not at war with Germany simultaneously for very long.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Guaporense » 19 Sep 2016 00:32

Based on the revisions I made on my GDP estimates using Willianson (1995)'s PPPs for 1905 and 1927 while nominal GDPs are from http://gpih.ucdavis.edu/GDP.htm, while I used http://www.rug.nl/research/ggdc/data/hi ... l-accounts to get the time series data to project GDP figures into 1913 and 1937-1939.

Here are the figures, for the years of 1905,1913,1927 and 1937-39 for some respective countries:

Here in 1905 pounds (and 1913 pounds for the exchange rate GDP figures):
Image

And here in 1927 pounds:
Image

And this is a graph relating Per Capita income, as I computed an index of munitions production from Race to the Front: The Material Foundations for Coalition Strategy (while using weights of 70% on shells, 10% on guns, 15% on aircraft and 5% on rifles and machine guns), then I divided the munitions index by the population of the powers, to compare with per capita income levels:

Image

Clearly, there was a strong correlation. It also reveals how the US wasn't remotely mobilized for WW1, while notice that Austria-Hungary produced relatively less than Italy, given it's similar level of development, thing is that Italy's economy managed to not collapse in WW1 while Austria-Hungary's economy collapsed completely from the blockade. France's higher level of per capita munitions production relative to Germany's can also be explained as a consequence of the blockade.

Notice also the multiplicative effect of per capita income on munitions production: Russia's munitions production was much lower than it's GDP, mainly because it was so backward it couldn't mobilize it's economy for total war. While industrialized countries like France and Germany could achieve much higher levels of mobilization.
Last edited by Guaporense on 19 Sep 2016 00:38, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Stiltzkin » 19 Sep 2016 00:33

Thanks for the effort. For whatever its worth.

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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Guaporense » 19 Sep 2016 01:10

Well, I used the same methology as Broadberry and Klein (2011) where they converted GDP figures into pounds using the same Williamson (1995) PPP's:

Image

I just applied the PPPs to all countries present in the study of Williamson (1995). One major difference of these figures from Maddison's figures is that the US/UK ratio is smaller here in 1927 (Maddison estimated US's per capita income to be about 120% of the UK's while this data implies it was 105%) and 1937-39 (as a consequence, since I used essentially the same time series data as he did). Also, France and Germany are slightly closer to the UK's per capita income than in Maddison's estimates (in 1913, Maddison estimates Germany's per capita income at 75% of the UKs, while Bairoch estimates it at 81%, while here it's 87%). Here French's per capita income is at 90% of the UK's in the 1920's compared to ca. 80% in Maddison's estimate.
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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Guaporense » 19 Sep 2016 02:08

It's interesting to compare these per capita income figures with life expectancy. I think that life expectancy is a harder type of data because it doesn't depend much on the quality of price data in order for PPPs to be constructed and also it's an absolute figure: how long people live, GDP per capita doesn't have a very hard anchor because relative prices are different so per capita incomes between countries will feel different to people with different tastes (a country where good beer is relatively cheaper will be richer for a beer fan while a wine fan might think a country with cheap good wine is richer).

Data for 1938, in years:

Country ------- 1938
Netherlands ----------- 67.44
Norway ---------------- 67.03
Australia -------------- 65.94
Sweden ---------------- 65.50
Denmark -------------- 64.96
New Zealand --------- 64.46
Switzerland ---------- 63.80
Canada --------------- 63.29
United Kingdom ----- 63.22
Germany ------------- 62.43
United States -------- 62.35
Belgium -------------- 60.16
France ---------------- 59.09
Italy ------------------ 56.11
Spain ----------------- 52.59 (1935, before Civil War)
Japan ---------------- 49.05
Taiwan --------------- 43.83
Korea ---------------- 42.80
USSR ----------------- 41.27
China ---------------- 32.91
India ----------------- 31.49

The USSR's figures are very low (21 years lower than Germany's, that's like 28 years lower in proportion to today's life expectancy) I think partly due to Stalin's killings (he killed hundreds of thousands of people per year on the USSR, that certainly decreased life expectancy significantly, Japan, a country on a similar level of development, he much higher life expectancy).

Notice also that the difference in life expectancy among countries was much higher in the 1930's than it is today, a reflection of the spread of industrialization and basic amenities (running water, sewage, safe and clean foodstuffs) over the world since that time (today China's life expectancy is 94% of Germany's back in 1938, it was slightly more than half of Germany's. Also note that India today has a higher life expectancy than the Netherlands in 1938, which was the highest life expectancy in the world.

And notice that after the German invasion, the USSR's life expectancy decreased to 15.8 years in 1943.

Data from: https://www.gapminder.org/data/
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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Stiltzkin » 19 Sep 2016 03:08

So a "consolidation" of life expectancy?

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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Marcus » 14 Nov 2016 21:32

Several off topic posts were removed.

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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Guaporense » 17 Nov 2016 04:52

Marcus, I was talking about "estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions", these posts are not off topic posts because I didn't say the thread that I created was about the warmaking potential in the 1930s and early 1940 only. Can I request you put those posts back in?
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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Guaporense » 09 Mar 2017 06:55

On Maddison's GDP figures

Anyway, Maddison's GDP figures were estimated in the following way: he used 1990 PPPs from the international price comparison program and computed the world's GDP in 1990 international dollars. Then he used estimates of long term growth rates to compute estimates of world GDP figures for the past centuries. That means that his figures for the 1930's are based on time series that are about 60 years long! In this case one should be careful, it's better to use PPPs computed directly for the time period in question. In the posts above I used Williamson (1995)'s PPPs for 1905 and 1927 to estimate GDP figures for 1905, 1913, 1927 and 1939. However one should take note that they differ significantly from each other: if you use his 1905 PPPs to estimate 1927-1937 figures you get discrepancies of upwards to 10% for France, UK and Germany and for Belgium and US the discrepancies are the biggest: it's per capita income goes from 122% and 98% of the UK's using 1905 PPPs to 105% and 83%, respectively.

Overall though, it's interesting that using the 1927 PPP figures the correlation between 1938 life expectancy and per capita income is much higher than using the 1990 PPPs from Maddison. The Historical National Account time series I used in the tables above are the same as Maddison's by the way.
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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Guaporense » 18 Mar 2017 18:03

I put the two PPP benchmarks in tables to allow comparison, the first (1905 PPPs) are in millions of 1905 Pounds, the second are in millions of 1927 pounds (notice Russia and Japan GDP had different ways to be estimated, using market exchange rates for Russia (which are the lowest quality estimate in this dataset) and Fukao et al (2007) 1935 PPP against the US dollar):

Image

Notice that Japan's GDP is bigger than Italy in 1937 using the 1927 PPP but smaller using the 1905 PPP.

I also put these 2 benchmarks in per capita terms for 5 countries (France, Germany, UK, US and Belgium) and I also used another PPP for Germany from Broadberry and Klein (2009) and a PPP of the 1937 pound to the 1935 US dollar using data from Fukao et al (2007) for the US and Broadberry and Klein (2009) for the UK:

Image

It shows how GDP figures are complicated to estimate: each new PPP yields slightly different figures, but at least these two benchmarks were in between the former two by Williamson (1995): Germany's 1937 per capita income was 89% of the UK 1937 per capita income using the 1905 PPPs, 77% using the 1927 PPPs and 85% using the 1937 PPPs. US's 1937 per capita income was 106% of the US using the 1905 PPP, 92% using the 1927 PPP and 95% using the 1935-1937 PPP that I computed.
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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Guaporense » 22 Mar 2017 17:35

Revised figures (still using Williamson 1995 PPPs but for the Soviet Union it's the 1913 exchange rate against the ruble plus Maddison's estimated growth from 1913 onward).
Image
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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Stiltzkin » 22 Mar 2017 19:03

The calculations for the Soviet Union seem implausable, i.e. for example, France + Germany + Italy would be richer before the war and also post war. Today, Germany has a stronger economy than Russia. The Eastern bloc countries had a higher living standard (on average) than the Russian soil of the Soviet Union, making this value somewhat questionable. Today, they have a non diversified distribution of 60-70% from food and resources (everything relies on petroleum prices), the other slice is arms production, pumping the value up, somewhat artificially. Harrison (and Samuelson) said that most of the data for the USSR is useless. This would indicate that the Soviet Union was economically stronger than Italy and Germany together, highly unlikely (Eastern Germany was significantly poorer than Western Germany, a very good indicator for comparisons). In most calculations the Soviet GDP in the 70s (by PPP, 2000 prices) does not exceed 500 Billion $, peaking at 1,700 before its collapse. That is to say that It is more likely that the post 89 figures are more realistic. You might as well try to figure out the North Korean GDP, or Chinas, because these values aren't reliable at all.
Originally you stated that PPP beats nominal comparisons, that might be true, but this does not seem to be always the case. Furthermore, I realized that for some nations it seems to be better to look at GNP (especially for free trade nations like the US) to give a better overview of external interaction.
I think one of the only halfway decent values in the list is the GDP of the Netherlands, which is also in good agreement with the recent NATO press release. German post war GDP seems also too high in relation to current values.
I was thinking about this dilemma and I came to the conclusion that the only way of estimating the economic strength of a nation partaking in WW2 is to look at two samples of low stress and high stress, of two interacting systems. I think that economic strength during peace times (full potential estimate) will not always reflect the true power of a nation during war times (certainly not for dictatorships), the problems are far more nuanced.
The data that is usually presented for dictatorships is for show and is built on conceitedness and complexes (and usually, crap written by leftist intellectuals).
Let me explain: The fields need to be weighed accordingly.
War making potential is defined as war industry (also the ability to convert peace time installations) + population ready for combat (younger labour force) + territory + resources + the ability to exploit these and also translate the overall potential. Now for the development of a country: Per capita values will determine the individual training, while also defining the maximum strain of a system (as could be observed during WW1).
This is why it is equally important to look at per capita defense expenditures of a nation and the politics and policies pursued by the political actors.

I am working on a simple formula that describes this phenomenon. Per capita GDP, education (also esprit d'corps!) will define the tactical effectiveness, while operational performance will be influenced by all quantitative assets. Total GDP and GNP will determine the ability to conduct strategic wars. So far I was able to predict the correct outcome of various wars in 80,5% of cases (yes it is still too low, this is confined to global conflicts, it is not suited for combat comparisons but mere warmaking potential), throughout history.

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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Guaporense » 23 Mar 2017 02:36

I actually did some exercise trying to estimate the GDP of China in 2016 vis other countries, it was 75 trillion yuan compared to 64 trillion yuan for the US and 18 trillion yuan for Japan and 15 trillion yuan for Germany. The margin of difference with the World Bank's PPP was 3% on average for a sample of 20 countries. The price data I used was from numbeo a site about cost of living.

Overall, GDPs should be measured in PPP terms especially in terms of measuring geopolitical weight) although market exchange rates GDPs measure international economic influence (how big the market is for international firms), for instance, Chinese movie box office is already bigger than North America's at PPP, being 14 billion dollars in 2016 compared to 11 billion for NA. But since the yuan is only worth about 55% of its purchasing power in terms of dollars, the Chinese box office was valued at about 7.7 billion US dollars in 2016.

Still one should take into account per capita income in its effect on reducing the "surplus" available for military mobilization (which is why China was not a very significant player in WW2 and weaker than Japan although Japan's GDP was half of China's).

In regards to the Soviet Union, their GNP at factor cost was computed by Harrison at 253.9 billion rubles in 1940 which would be about 55 billion US dollars at market prices at official exchange rates, compared to about 100.4 billion for the US or about 10 billion dollars for Japan at official exchange rates (at PPPs Japan's GDP vis the US was almost twice vis official exchange rates). Using Harrison's estimate the GDP per capita of the USSR was 42 pounds from 1927 (he did the estimate in dollars of 1982 and I converted into 1927 pounds using the US's GDP deflator and the Williamson PPPs), mine using 1913 exchange rates is 40.5. The USSR's figure of 7.8 billion 1927 pounds vis 14 billion pounds for the US looks ok considering it converges to multiple other figures based, which was based on 1913 exchange rates and estimated growth from 1913 to 1939. So we can say the USSRs economy was about 55% of the US's at the beginning of WW2.

Now, these figures I think give a good idea of relative size of the economies of the great powers and other nations. And they show the collapse of Germany from 1939 to 1950, decreasing from 60% of the US's to about 20%.

I also did a comparison of these figures with Maddison's in terms of correlation with life expectancy in 1939 and these figures had higher correlation. One criticism one can make of these figures is that they are based on the prices of consumer goods and don't include the prices of capital goods such as machine tools (albeit the implicit PPP of machine tools vis Germany US in 1942 was 1.78 (from Tooze's and Ristuccia (2013)), given that the US had massive inflation from 1940 to 1942 the PPP of 2.38 implied in Williamson's figures appear reasonably consistent.

I also did PPPs for Japan and Germany and compared with the Fukao et al (2007) implied figure vis the UK and they fit reasonably close although the discrepancy is still substantial at 10%, in one case Japan's per capita income is 24.0% of the UK's while in the Fukao et al (2007) estimate its 26.4%. But overall I am fairly sure about that figure for Japan is in the correct magnitude.

Of course I don't think GDP is an all embracing measure of warmaking potential but it's a good measure of the economic size and per capita figures, of the level of development of a country.

Its true that Germany's figure of 20% of the USs GDP in 1950 looks big compared to today but that's the whole Germany which had about 69 million people or almost half of the US's population of 152 million on the same year. Per capita it was far inferior and closed in on the discrepancy from 1950 to 1980, increasing from about 50% to 90% in 1980, that is West Germany, East Germany was still around 35% of the USs per cap income.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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