Epstein S. R. (2008) Craft guilds in the pre-modern economy

June 29, 2008

Epstein Stephen. R. (2008) “Craft guilds in the pre-modern economy: a discussion”, The Economic History Review, 61/1, 155-174.

This article of Larry Epstein is a discussion of Sheilagh Ogilvie’s article published by the review in 2004. In turn, Sheilagh Ogilve is offered to answer to professor Epstein’s comments. The result is a dynamic presentation of the current state of the research by two brilliant and passionate academics. Read the rest of this entry »

Atwell W. S. (1986) Seventeenth-Century Crisis in China and Japan

June 22, 2008

Atwell William S. (Feb. 1986). “Some Observations on the ‘Seventeenth-Century Crisis’ in China and Japan”, The Journal of Asian Studies, 45/2, 223-244.

Causes the most often advanced by scholars to explain the Ming’s collapse of 1644:
• Wan-li emperor (1580-1644) irresponsible behaviour,
• the cost of war against Japan,
• the defeat of Liaotung in 1619 against the Manchus,
• the “reign of terror” of the eunuch Wei Chung-hsien in 1625-6.
On the other hand, the first century of the Tokugawa is often presented as a golden age. But that contrast ought not to undermine the fact that Chinese and Japanese history are mutually intelligible. What was deferent was the response to a common situation. Read the rest of this entry »

Pearson M. N. (1991) Merchants and states

June 15, 2008

Pearson Michael N. (1991) “Merchants and states”, in Tracy James D. (ed.), The Political Economy of Merchant Empires. State Power and World Trade 1350-1750, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.41-116.

What is the general role of governments in economic development?
Policies can impede or induce growth. Political elites can also have a significant influence on development. Governments support the class that provide the most important share of their revenue (fiscalism). Besides, the poorest the sate, the strongest the non-state players.

Fiscal policies
“The crucial variable is sizes of state, class structure, and revenue resources. Controllers of small political units typically have to take much more interest, for better or worse, in overseas trade than do rulers with large peasant population that can be taxed relatively easily” (69). Large entities preserved an “indifferent neutrality” towards merchants community. The author takes the example of the early modern long-distance trade and distinguishes between two types of polities: the territorial empires and the merchant empires.

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Eltis D. and Engerman S. L. (2000) British industrialization and the slave trade

June 8, 2008

Eltis David and Engerman Stanley L. (2000) “The importance of slavery and the slave trade to industrializing Britain”, Journal of economic history, 60, 123-144.

How important was the American slave system to the British economy of the second half of the 18th century? According to those involved in slaving ventures there was “hardly any Branch of Commerce in which this Nation is concerned that does not derive some advantage from it” (123). But this opinion was only put forward by parties had interest in overestimating the economic significance of the slave system at a time abolition was advocated by many. Read the rest of this entry »

Kessler D. and T. Peter (2007) The grain trade in the Roman Empire

June 1, 2008

Kessler David and Temin Peter (2007) “The organization of the grain trade in the early Roman Empire”, Economic History Review, 60/2, 313–332.

“Long-distance trade […] was beset by information problems”. Principal-agent issues have been studied for the medieval/early modern period, this article extends the scope to the Roman merchants. Who did they deal with asymmetric information? In particular how did the logistical nightmare that consisted of providing wheat to Rome’s inhabitants was overcome (313)? After the end of organized piracy in 67 BC, there was still a significant amount of uncertainty for the merchants. How did they managed their agents often located months away in distant provinces? Read the rest of this entry »