This week in Economic History (May 25-29th, 2009)

On Monday the 25th and Tuesday the 26th, a conference on “Ambitions and Reality: Historical Perspectives on the Common Agricultural Policy” will be held in the Deutsches Historisches Institut in Paris. Also on Monday, Stephen Haber (Stanford University) will present a paper on the myth of the resource course in the Economic History Seminar in Mexico City.

On Wednesday the 27th, a workshop on “Les langues du commerce à l’époque moderne” will be held at the Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme, in Aix-en-Provence, France. You can contact Olivier Raveux if you wish more information on this event. Also on Wednesday, the VonGremp Workshop in Economic and Entrepreneurial History hosts Robert Margo (Boston University). Margo will present his paper Did Railroads Induce or Follow Economic Growth? Urbanization and Population Growth in the American Midwest, 1850-1860.

Now that I think of it, the existence of several languages can be compared (though not in all aspects, I admit) to national monies. From a mere economic point of view, they are also entry barriers. I guess there would be large productivity gains and a reduction of transaction costs if there was a common language on Earth. However, as Paul Krugman once said for currencies, you can also argue the case for several languages: the more languages, the more competition among them, and a unique language can minimize the negative effects of a “cultural” shock. Problems arise when scale economies menace the existance of languages with less speakers.

On Thursday the 28th, there will be a seminar session on Cotton Textiles on the Indian Ocean Periphery, c1500-c1850: De-industrialization or Industrialization, by William Clarence-Smith (SOAS, London), at Universidad Carlos III, in Madrid.

The week will end with a business history event on the firm and entrepreneurs in Mexico, 18th-20th century, in Querétaro, México, on Thursday and Friday. Contact  José Ávila if you are interested.

As always, please let us know if you participate in other economic history events around the world!

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