A’Hearn B. (2005) The not-so-mighty finance

October 16, 2009

A’Hearn, Brian (2005) Finance-led divergence in the regions of Italy. Financial History Review, 12/1: 7-41.


After the unification, the Italian South did not catch up with the North, on the contrary they engaged on a divergent path as the per capita income gap increased from 15-25% to 55% in the first 50 years (p.7). This continuing disparity may be explained by the sore state of the southern banks which could have been unable to support and finance local development (finance-led growth argument; p.9). However, initial evidence seems not to support this hypothesis, as the share of the Mezzogiorno in the banking activity of the country was in line with the relative economic weight of the region (p.10). Read the rest of this entry »


How the market made modern art

September 4, 2009

During the Utrecht conference, I encountered Jeff Taylor, a young American scholar based at the CEU of Budapest,   who was presenting his research on the rise of modernism in Hungarian art. His work is very interesting as it offers a history of art considered as any other business or economic activity. His PhD thesis will be published and to be frank I can’t wait. Here is the insightful interview he granted me this week via email.

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Austin G. (2009) Coercion and labour market in pre-colonial West Africa

May 19, 2009

Austin, Gareth (2009) “Coercion and markets: the political economy of slavery in West Africa, c.1450-1900”, paper presented for the Séminaire: Travail et conditions de vie en Afrique dans la longue durée, at the Paris School of Economics, 18/05/09.



The use of slave labour in pre-colonial Western Africa has often been attributed to the small human densities in the region. But this argument is in contradiction with the fact that slavery was relatively uncommon in the area before the development of the Atlantic slave trade. Indeed, it is the European demand for African bond labour that created the mechanisms that were subsequently used by the “domestic” slave trade. Those two markets were complementary, in particularly, the Atlantic slave trade concentrated on men while the domestic demand was centred on women. Read the rest of this entry »

Schulze M.-S. and Wolf N. (2009) Ethno-linguistic endogenous borders within the Habsburg Empire

April 22, 2009

Schulze, Max-Stephan and Wolf, Nikolaus (2009), “On the origin of border effects: insights from the Habsburg Empire”, Journal of Economic Geography, 9/1, 117-136.



While market integration typically depends on the level of technology and infrastructure, economists have shown that borders affect prices and trade flows (p.117). Administrative borders are strongly trade diverting but what about other types of borders such as the ethno-linguistic ones? The authors study the Austro-Hungarian Empire as it represents a rather unique example of multi-ethnic polity not divided by national borders (p.118). Read the rest of this entry »

Krugman P. (1991) Geography and trade

March 31, 2009

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



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 »

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.


“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 »

Mitchener K. and Ohnuki M. (2009) Capital integration in Japan

March 15, 2009

Mitchener, Kris James and Ohnuki, Mari (2009) “Institutions, competition and capital market integration in Japan”, The Journal of Economic History, 69/1, 138-171.



The causal relationship between finance and economic growth makes “understanding the factors that encourage capital market development […] a key question” (p.138). Meiji-era policy-maker recognized that “the geographical mobility of capital [was] critical to allocative efficiency” and that to modernize the economy they had to forge an integrated capital market (p.139). Read the rest of this entry »