McCants A. (2007) Poverty v. Modernity: 1/0

September 29, 2009

McCants, Anne E.C. (2007) “Inequality among the poor of eighteenth century Amsterdam”, Explorations in Economic History, 44/1: 1-21.

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The Netherlands, and more precisely Holland, are often described as the first modern economy (p.2). Economic growth over the Golden Ages attracted numerous migrants from the rural areas of the country as well as from all over Northern Europe. Usually these new comers were extremely poor and as a result standards of living in 1800 seem to have been lower than in 1500. Dutch cities were thus characterized by a very high level of inequality (p.2). Read the rest of this entry »


How beer caused the Industrial Revolution

September 28, 2009

brewery inside

Just found this article debunking the myth of the traditional Irishness of Guiness, by an economic historian I really like, Cormac Ó Gráda (via MR).

Not only is it fun to read but it tends to confirm what I have been thinking for a while and hope some day to demonstrate, that beer caused the industrial revolution. Read the rest of this entry »


Dagnino G. B. (1995) When being the first is not enough

September 28, 2009

Dagnino, Giovanni Battista (1995) “The Tavola di Palermo: The First Public Bank of Second European XVI century” in Proceedings of the Conference on Business History, October 24 and 25 1994, Rotterdam, eds Mila Davids, Ferry de Goey & Dirk de Witt, 91-111.

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The evolution of Sicilian banks reflects the history of the island during the early modern period, in that they were “economically and financially backward” (p.91). The 16th century in the Western Mediterranean was a time of Spanish Domination dominated by (1) money clipping, (2) high inflation, (3) commercial mismanagement, (4) Gresham Law episodes fuelled by unscrupulous financiers and (5) heavy and altogether negative government interventions (p.93). Read the rest of this entry »


Saint Catherine of the week

September 28, 2009

catherine

No one loves St Catherine quite as much as the Orthodox church.


On the rise and decadence of Detroit (1950-2009)

September 27, 2009
Detroit, 1950-2009

Detroit, 1950-2009

Time Magazine has an interesting article by Daniel Okrent about Detroit’s fate. What was once known as America’s Arsenal of Democracy and became the fourth largest city in the United States, shows signs of accelerated decay. Unemployment rate is almost 30%, business is all but (almost) shutdown, and the town of Robocop has nothing but a gloomy future. What is relevant in Okrent’s piece is his discussion on the political economy of Detroit’s failure. Populist politicians, overconfident automobile companies and pampered unionized workers intertwined to make of this Michigan city a urban disaster. Check out the pics of Detroit’s remains by Sean Hemmerle. They’re quite scary.


Pullan B. (1999) Save the body to save the soul

September 24, 2009

Pullan, Brian (1999) “The Counter-Reformation, medical care and poor relief”, in Health Care and Poor Relief in Counter-Reformation Europe, eds Ole Peter Grell, Andrew Cunnigham & Jon Arrizabalaga, London: Routledge, 17-33.

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“It [Counter Reformation] stood among much else, for a more introspective Christianity founded on meditative prayer and the systematic examination of conscience, for a moral discipline which extended to clergy and laity alike, for a systematic pay piety shaped by participation in confraternities – in societies devoted to ceremony and good works, and designed to encourage people who could not withdraw from everyday life to follow a modified religious rule based on the practice of charity in all senses of the word”. Read the rest of this entry »


Sylla R. (2008) How Alexander Hamilton founded America (singlehanded)

September 22, 2009

Sylla, Richard (2008) “The Political Economy of Early U.S. Financial Development”, in Political Institutions and Financial Development, ed. Stephen Haber, Douglass C. North and Barry R. Weingast. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 60-91.

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In only seven years, from 1788 to 1795, the US underwent a dramatic financial revolution; starting from scratch and swiftly acquiring all the key components of a modern financial infrastructure. By the time the westward expansion and the industrial take-off were ready to swing into action, a strong financial system was there to back them (p.62). But what allowed the US to develop these instruments? Read the rest of this entry »