July 31, 2009

Art Diamond has something about how the average American is now better off than Julius Caesar.

Originally from Delong piece on how Fitzwilliam Darcy, by nowadays standards, wasn’t that rich after all.

VOX EU has a piece by Nico Voigtländer (who should really change his profile picture) and H.-J. Voth on Malthusian forces and the rise of the West.

D. Drezner has a (not very original but interesting anyhow) list of the 10 best books about Economic History. Interestingly it is very (very) oriented towards modern stuff, even totally contemporary and the West (specially the US).

Scott Summer has a good post on his blog the Money Illusion on “what if” the US parted and became 50 independent states? (via oxo)

John Ferejohn and Frances Rosenbluth have a good paper, that Oxonomics wittily called the “political economy of ninja“.

Richards J. (1990) One century late: the 17th century crisis in India

July 28, 2009

Richards, John F. (1990) “The Seventeenth-Century Crisis in South Asia”, Modern Asian Studies, 24/4, 625-638.

Picture 3Picture 24Picture 22

Evidence of the 17th-century ‘General Crisis’ have been found all over Eurasia. However in India those years represent the golden age of the Mughal dynasty (p.625). The subcontinent enjoyed a long period of relative peace after the violence of the conquest (p.626). Read the rest of this entry »

Why economic history? (part II)

July 25, 2009

This week the Economist has a review of Alan Beattie’s False Economy. A surprising economic history of the world. It is an excellent and highly entertaining book presenting  (mostly recent) economic history to the general public. I will be using the examples he gives to answer to my drop-out dad when he asks me for the nth time: “but what is it exactly that you do”. Lets put it that way: it is an truly great and thorow introduction and I can only wish I had the opportunity to read it when I started, it would have saved me a lot of uncertainty and unecessary readings.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why economic history? (part I)

July 25, 2009

As usual, Tim Harford, the FT’s undercover economist, publishes in this week-end’s paper a fun and insightful column. This time, it’s about a student who tried to build a toaster from scratch and failed miserably. The morale of the story is that one always depends on tools built before. To put it another way,we are all standing on the shoulders of silex.

Beyond the conclusions Haford draws from the experiment, I believe it should be pointed out that economies should always be considered in four dimensions. Time matters as much as space and how classical economics predicts a market would function in two dimensions. That’s why economic history matters: the same way as you cannot build a toaster without the help of past manufactures, you cannot understand an economy by simply looking at the present.

Up to a point, I think instead of economic history, we should talk about the economics of endowment.

Web shopping: Schwartz’s view of the Fed’s monetary policy

July 22, 2009
Professor Schwartz

Professor Schwartz

Recently Michael Hirsh interviewed monetary historian Anna Schwartz for Newsweek. She doesn’t sound happy at all about the state of monetary policy in the face of the financial crisis. Excerpts:

Anna Schwartz is 93 and has been working at the same place since 1941. She’s that rarity in economics, or indeed any field: a living legend from another era who hasn’t lost a step mentally and who grasps everything that’s going on around her in the present. Or at least she seems to—but more on that later. Schwartz is one of the most renowned monetary scholars in the world. She’s the woman who authored, with Milton Friedman, The Monetary History of the United States—the book that launched the free-market counterattack against Keynesianism in the early ’60s. And now, as she surveys the wreckage of the last two years, Schwartz has one thought: if only Milton were here. “Ever since his death I have lamented the fact that he has not been around to express his views on what’s going on,” she told me the other day at her mid-Manhattan office at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Read the rest of this entry »

1709: Turcaret, the forefather of the delinquants of finance

July 22, 2009

An interesting article in Le Monde of today about an almost unknown French theater play dealing with the world of finance just 10 years before the scandal of Law and the South Sea Bubble.

Quelle que soit l’époque, les financiers et les hommes d’argent ne goûtent guère la critique. Ainsi, Turcaret, d’Alain-René Lesage (1668-1747) pièce féroce et cynique sur l’affairisme et le naufrage des valeurs morales au début du XVIIIe siècle, est d’abord l’histoire d’une tentative de censure. Furieux en effet de se voir dépeints, sous les traits du financier Turcaret, en usuriers sans scrupules, obsédés par l’argent, vaniteux, fourbes et nuisibles à leurs contemporains, mécontents d’être ainsi désignés à la vindicte populaire, les milieux d’affaires firent pression sur la Comédie-Française pour empêcher les représentations. Ils offrirent même à l’auteur une grosse somme d’argent, murmura la rumeur publique, afin qu’il retire sa pièce. Read the rest of this entry »

Web shopping

July 21, 2009

Felix Salmon has an already-2-months-old post about why Economic History is a countercyclical asset.

Jim Naughton has fresh news on the impact of financial integration on economic growth during the first phase of globalisation (gonna read thewhole article tonight in bed).

Aceclyst has a fun list of books devoted to premodern financiers on Amazon.com.

Finally (no I’m not jealous) Oxonomics’ new online issue has an interview with Jeffrey Williamson, no less (via Oxonomics).