De Moor T. and van Zanden J.L. (2005) Marrige and labour in Northwestern Europe 1300-1800

January 31, 2009

De Moor, Tine and van Zanden Jan Luiten (2005) “Girlpower. The European Marriage Pattern and labour markets in the North Sea region in the late medieval and early modern period” in The Rise, Organozation, and Institutional Framework of Factor Markets,, 25p.


The European Marriage Pattern (EMP) was one of the most striking features of the Western European society in the Early Modern Period (late marriage, high number of single women). The authors concentrate on the “underlying structure or mechanism” that led to the EMP (p.2).

In the 9th century, the Catholic Church adopted the principle of mutual consent as the basis of marriage (p.3). Spouses were even permitted to perform the sacrament themselves and if need be in secret. The parents had officially lost any authority upon their children’s marital life. Despites resistance among the aristocracy, by the 15th century, the doctrine of consensual marriage was widespread. Read the rest of this entry »

The World Economic Forum, Davos, 2009 in an Historical Context

January 30, 2009


A Comment written by Rich Marino

While watching all the spectacular people speaking in Davos, Switzerland this week, I couldn’t help but think that I had heard all of this before. It was a very surreal, very bizarre experience!  So, I took the liberty of visiting the website of the World Economic Forum in Davos, and I went to their archives and retrieved their oldest annual report which dates back 10 years to 1999. In that light, please find the following overview of the forum which took place at their annual meeting in Davos between January 28th and February 2nd, 1999: Read the rest of this entry »

Fontaine L. (1993) The French pedlars in Europe, 1650-1900

January 30, 2009

Fontaine, Laurence (1993) Histoire du colportage en Europe. XVe – XIXe siècle, Paris: Albin Michel, 334p.


“if you ever hear the pedlar, you would never dance again after a tabor and pipe; no, the bagpipe could not move you … he has songs for men and women of all sizes … he hath ribands of all the colours i’ the rainbow … he sings them over as they were gods and goddesses”

William Shakespeare, Winter’s tale.


This book is both important and disappointing. While the title indicates a history of the peddlers in Europe from the 15th to the 19th century, what its author delivers is closer from a research on one or two French networks from 1680 to 1850.  Laurence Fontaine studies the traders rather than the trade itself, the quantitative aspects (how many traders, value of the goods traded) are never dealt with. As usual for a French historian, the economic exchanges are seen as embedded in the social relations, which gives a convenient excuse not to undertake the painstaking economic approach of the issue.  Read the rest of this entry »

Will a fourteenth-century industrial district deafeat the subprime crisis?

January 30, 2009

Today in the FT’s Comments section an excellent article by Peter Marsh showing the significant effects historical factors such as location of industrial districts can have on contemporary businesses.


Survive the credit crisis the Alpine way

By Peter Marsh

Draw on a map a circle of 200km radius and centred on Lucerne, Switzerland, and you see the Alpine Ring. What this represents holds valuable lessons for the world as it tries to fight its way out of the economic crisis. Read the rest of this entry »

Molho A. and Ramada Curto D. (2003) Merchant networks in the early modern world

January 29, 2009

Molho, Anthony and Ramada Curto, Diego (2003) “Les réseaux marchands à l’époque moderne”, Annales HSS, 58/3, 569-579.


The analysis of the trading networks fits in the comparative history of the world advocated by Fernand Braudel. The unity of the worlds considered (such as the Mediterranean for instance) does not depend on the geomorphic factors, but on the peoples who tie separate regions together. The motivation of these people comes from trade. But what is the nature of these commercial networks? How do they work and interact with the other components of the economy? Read the rest of this entry »

What did the New Deal really do?

January 28, 2009

A podcast from the Cato Institute with Thomas A. Firey on the effect the F.D.R.’s New Deal had on the Great Depression.

Fixing Global Finance

January 27, 2009

Fixing Global Finance by Martin Wolf; 2008; 248 pages; Yale University Press

Book Review written by Rich Marino

In his usual uncanny way, Martin Wolf of the Financial Times takes very complicated subjects  found under the global economic umbrella and he presents them so that the general public readily understands their importance from a practical perspective. In his most recent work entitled Fixing Global Finance, Wolf explains very methodically why global imbalances cause financial crises, and in so doing, he underscores the current crisis, but in order for him to make his point he highlights the financial turmoil taking place at this time in the United States. Read the rest of this entry »

Bosker M., Buringh E. and van Zanden J.L. (2008) Why did Europe overtake the Arab World?

January 27, 2009

Bosker Maarten, Buringh Eltjo and van Zanden Jan Luiten (2008) “From Baghdad to London. The dynamics of urban growth in Europe and the Arab world, 800-1800”, CEPR.


In this article, the authors wonder how did Europe rose from insignificance to global domination from 800 to 1800, while the relative importance of the neighbouring Muslim regions decreased. They try to define the “preconditions for the genesis of the modern economic growth” (p.3) and to understand the roots of the European modernity. When did Europe and the Arab world diverge (p.4).? Read the rest of this entry »

Seen in the news

January 26, 2009

Lords of Finance offers economic history for dummies, by Steve Weinber (23/01/09)

As the United States and most of the rest of the world struggle through the economic downturn of 2009, Liaquat Ahamed is an unexpected beneficiary. When he started researching his history of global finance years ago, he almost surely did not realize how relevant it would become upon its January 2009 publication date. read more

Banks need more capital, by Alan Greenspan (The economist, 18/12/08)

In a guest article, Alan Greenspan says banks will need much thicker capital cushions than they had before the bust. read more

Emerging economists. International bright young things (The Economist, 30/12/08)

The next generation of economists do their best work somewhere between the field clinic and the dissection room. read more

McCants A. (2008) The diffusion of tea and coffee drinking in the 18th-century Netherlands

January 26, 2009

McCants Anne E.C. (2008) “Poor consumers as global consumers: the diffusion of tea and coffee drinking in the eighteenth century”, Economic History Review, 61/S1, 172-200.



The 17th century saw the introduction of “foods would entirely eclipse the centrality of bread in the rituals of western sociability” (p.172). The idea of a consumer revolution may sound far fetched since the industry lacked the power to reshape the structure of demand and the colonial trade only accounted for 17% of the Dutch international trade at its peak in the 18th century (or 1% of GNP of western Europe and 10% of gross investment; p.173). So were colonial goods (tea, coffee, chocolate, tobacco and sugar), generally considered a significant part of the Industrious Revolution, as important as they are commonly thought to be? Read the rest of this entry »

Faroqhi S. (2005) The Ottoman guilds

January 24, 2009

Faroqhi Suraiya (2005) “Chapter 1: Understanding Ottoman Guilds”, in Faroqhi Suraiya and Deguilhem Randi, Crafts and Craftsmen of the Middle East: Fashioning the Individual in the Muslim Mediterranean, London/New York: I.B.Tauris, 3-39.



The main problem for the study of the Ottoman guilds is the lack of sources to study them, specially before 1570; it is not even known whether they were introduced by the 16th-century conquest in the Arab lands (Syria and Egypt) or if they existed there before (p.3). Early 20th century scholars were particularly interested in the relationship the Ottoman artisans had with religion. In particular, Ülgener wondered why the advanced Ottoman economy did not make the transition to capitalism. For him the shift away of international trade created conditions in which the only way for craftsmen to accept economic stagnation was to develop a mental system based on modesty, egalitarianism, religious piety and small mindedness (p.5). Read the rest of this entry »

The English Levant Company’s rates of consulage

January 23, 2009

Here are the taxes per commodity levied by the English Levant Company’s consul in 1660.


pdf file