Krugman P. (1991) Geography and trade

March 31, 2009

Krugman, Paul (1991) Geography and trade, London: MIT Press/Leuven UP, p.142.

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Introduction

Economic geography is devoted to understand the location of production in space, in other words where things happen in relation to one another (p.1). Economists ought to remember that countries both occupy and exist in space (p.2). “To say anything useful or interesting about the location of economic activity in space, it is necessary to get away from the constant-returns, perfect-competition approach that still dominates most economy analysis”, and use such notions as increasing returns and imperfect competition (p.4). Read the rest of this entry »

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Hoffman P., Postel-Vinay G. and Rosenthal J.-L. (1992) Private credit market in Paris

March 28, 2009

Hoffman, Philip T., Postel-Vinay, Gilles, and Rosenthal, Jean-Laurent (1992) “Private Credit Markets in Paris, 1690-1840”, The Journal of Economic History, 52/2, 293-306.

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Introduction

In Ancien Régime France, “credit assumed such importance that, as one historian suggest, an 18th-century person’s very reputation was bound up with his ability to obtain loans.” Until the late 19th century, the usual intermediaries on the credit market were not banks but notaries (p.294). Notarial offices recorded families’ transactions for generations, notaries thus enjoyed a unique ability to access information on the parties’ financial history. Their intimate knowledge of a person’s position allowed them to match borrowers and lenders, often on short notice. Read the rest of this entry »


Hoppit J. (1986) Financial crises in 18th-century England

March 27, 2009

Hoppit, Julian (1986) “Financial Crises in Eighteenth-Century England”, The Economic History Review, 39/1, 39-58.

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Introduction

“Because the financial system in the 18th century was evolving and becoming more sophisticated, […] the nature of crises developed and changed”. Historians have long disagreed on the very definition of what constituted a crisis in early modern England (p.40). The author defines a crisis as a moment when expectations change leading owners of wealth to abandon a type of asset for another leading to the falls in prices of the former. The more widely available the newly-sought asset is, the lesser the crisis. Read the rest of this entry »


Moral code

March 25, 2009

A brillant exposé, which should inspire every economic historians. I’m thinking in particular about the culturalist debate. The ethics of any given socio-economic group is buit around a set of rules appealing to the mechanisms described by Dan Ariely. That’s what people like A. Grief fail to take into account. Men are hard-wired in such way that cold blooded rationalization out is not the way we think.


Some goodies

March 23, 2009

A few cool addresses:

Arthur Young’s voyage in France (french on Gutenberg project).

and the Yale’s Econ 252, by Pr. R. Shiller on financial markets.


Goldstone J. (2003) Agricultural Revolution in China

March 22, 2009

Goldstone, Jack A. (2003) “Feeding the people, starving the state: China’s Agricultural Revolution of the 17th/18th Centuries”, paper for the EHES Istanbul conference, 43p.

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This article is available online

Introduction

The Chinese population jumped from 120 to 350 million between 1620 and 1800. Many historians have assumed that the necessary growth of the agricultural output had been reached through a process of “involution” (i.e. not through gains in labour productivity, but thanks to increased effort; p.1). This stagnation of the output per person has been seen as the reverse of what happened in England at the same time: the agricultural revolution (p.2). Read the rest of this entry »


North D.C. (1959) Agriculture and economic growth

March 20, 2009

North, Douglass C. (1959) “Agriculture and Regional Economic Growth”, Journal of Farm Economics, 41/5, 943-951.

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Introduction
“There seems to be agreement amongst economist that agriculture contributes little to economic growth”. Worse it may even delay development as agricultural comparative advantage may attract production factors away from the most moderns sectors of the economy. At best, progress in agriculture is seen as a consequence rather than a cause of urban and industrial development (p.943). But the author argues that “the successful production of agricultural (or indeed most extractive) commodities for sale [outside of] the region can be and under certain conditions has been the prime influence inducing economic growth […] and eventually industrial development”. Read the rest of this entry »