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 »
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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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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
March 11, 2009
Sylla, Richard (2002) “Financial Systems and Economic Modernization”, The Journal of Economic History, 62/2, 277-292.
The author answers the age-old question, “why isn’t the whole world developed?” by arguing that development differences can be explained by the “spread of modern financial systems, which serve to facilitate the acquisition and application of both nonhuman and human capital”. And the “key institutional components” necessary to describe what is a modern financial system are: “sound public finances and public debt managements; stable monetary and payment arrangements; sound banking system (more generally, institutional lenders); an effective central bank; and sound insurance companies (more generally, institutional investors)” (p.280). Read the rest of this entry »
February 27, 2009
American canal building
Feb 26th 2009
From The Economist print edition
AS SOME governments are about to rediscover, the actual construction work can be the easy part when embarking on large infrastructure projects. Winning the necessary political support is much harder, especially from legislators keen on alternative public works that more directly benefit their constituents. The competing interests of places that stand to lose or gain from projects are further obstacles to overcome. So are the difficulties contractors experience when they seek to recruit thousands of dependable employees willing to work long hours in arduous conditions. Read the rest of this entry »
February 19, 2009
Submitted by Rich Marino
Lately, there has been never ending discussions about today’s government bailouts and stimulus packages within the context of currency devaluations, deflation, yesterday’s gold standard, and how all of this relates to the history of the Great Depression. All of this banter begs the question: what did we actually learn from this history? Read the rest of this entry »
February 3, 2009
Boschma, Ron A. (1998) “The industrial rise of the Third Italy: open window of locational opportunity?”, paper presented at the 38th Congress of European Regional Science Association, Vienna, 33p.
This article is available online
The Window of Locational Opportunity- (WLO-) concept “accounts for dynamic and accidental dimensions of new industrial development in space (… which) tend to open up in the event of new techno-industrial developments”. Can this concept explain why the post WWII wave of urbanization in Italy happened in the so-called Third Italy  and not in the Northwest, the traditional industrial core or the South (p.3)? Read the rest of this entry »
January 30, 2009
Today in the FT’s Comments section an excellent article by Peter Marsh showing the significant effects historical factors such as location of industrial districts can have on contemporary businesses.
Survive the credit crisis the Alpine way
By Peter Marsh
Draw on a map a circle of 200km radius and centred on Lucerne, Switzerland, and you see the Alpine Ring. What this represents holds valuable lessons for the world as it tries to fight its way out of the economic crisis. Read the rest of this entry »