January 2, 2013
Mueller, Reinhold C. (1987) I banchi locali a Venezia nel Tardo Medioevo. Studi Storici, 28/1: 145-55.
There is a lot to be admired in Austrian economists, their resilience, their attachment to simple elegant ideas and their sound understanding of the long-term factors that give the economy its cyclical nature. But one must admit that their Ludite-like hatred for finance is to the very least puzzling. They claim to trust nothing but gold and they would like to see the activity of banks restricted to little more than a locker service. Their trust in free market and in the adaptive nature of human ingenuity ends at the door of their local branch of HSBC. Read the rest of this entry »
October 20, 2009
Seurot, François (2002) “Les crises bancaires en Italie au Moyen Age: un essai d’applicationn de la théorie de Minsky-Kindleberberger”, paper presented at the XIX Journée d’économie monétaire et bancaire, 21p.
This paper is available online (pdf).
Following a long tradition, Minsky and Kindleberger  have based their analysis of financial crises in the early modern and modern periods on their vision of credit as intrinsically unstable and thus naturally prone to crashes. Their model is based on five steps:
- An exogenous shock modifies the incentive system the economy is based upon.
- These new incentive channel credit toward a given sector and produces a localized economic boom.
- Euphoria leads to the overestimation of the ROI and to overtrading.
- Fundamentals are reconsidered and credit dries up.
- Torschlusspanik, or bank rush (p.1). Read the rest of this entry »
July 15, 2009
"Police officers marching in Urumqi". Photo by Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times
If you want to know more about the historical and economic origins of Uighur’s unrest in China last weeks, here is a good article on Xinjiang’s history by Edward Wong, a New York Times journalist.
April 18, 2009
Vincent Bolandhas just published in the FT a great article about my beloved city of Genoa and its early and complex financial system and the all-mighty Banco di San Giorgio. I realy like when mainstream media deal with Economic History.
Some more about the bank from The Economist.
Published: April 17 2009 17:15 | Last updated: April 17 2009 17:15
On March 2 1408, eight men gathered in the great hall of the Casa di San Giorgio, a trading house on what was then the main street in Genoa, a few metres from where the waters of the Ligurian Sea lap the Italian shore. They were merchants, rich and powerful representatives of the city’s most influential families, and they were meeting to discuss a matter of the utmost gravity. The once-glorious republic of Genoa had fallen on hard times. After years of war with Venice and a crushing defeat at the battle of Chioggia in 1381, the state was effectively bankrupt. The task was to rescue it.
A few months earlier, towards the end of 1407, Genoa’s Council of Ancients had authorised the Casa di San Giorgio to carry out this job. It would be accomplished by creating a bank that would facilitate the repayment of Genoa’s debts in return for interest at 7 per cent and the right to collect taxes and customs owed to the city. The purpose of the meeting that spring day was to declare the Banco di San Giorgio open for business. Read the rest of this entry »
March 13, 2009
Gelderblom, Oscar (2005) “The decline of Fairs and Merchant Guilds in the Low Countries, 1250-1650″, Economy and Society in the Low Countries before 1850, Working Paper 1, 47p.
This article is available on line
Between the 11th and 13th century, during the Commercial Revolution, long-distance trade in Europe expanded rapidly thanks to organizational improvements such as fairs and merchant guilds (p.1). In fairs, merchants increased their chance to find business partners and benefited from the protection and the contract-enforcement abilities of the local jurisdictions. Merchant guilds were associations of traders from the same origin present in a foreign market and united in order to increase their bargain power with local authorities (p.2). Read the rest of this entry »
March 6, 2009
Epstein, Stephan R. (2000) “States and fair”, in Freedom and Growth. The rise of states and markets in Europe, 1300-1750, Idem, Abingdon: Routeledge, 73-88.
New fairs everywhere
During the second half of the 14th century and the 15th century a great number of fairs were created around Europe. Testimony to their success, most of them lasted until the 1500s and beyond. They responded to the problems posed by the lack of “cheap and flexible system of distribution” over the continent, specially between the depopulated cattle-grazing uplands and the meat-, wool- and dairy-consuming towns (p.75). Livestock fairs where thus “often set up at the foot of major mountain passes”, Besançon for instance (p.76). Read the rest of this entry »
March 5, 2009
Munro, John H. (2006) “South German silver, European textiles, and Venetian trade with the Levant and Ottoman Empire, c. 1370 to c. 1720: a non-Mercantilist approach to the balance of payment problem”, in Relazione economiche tra Europea e mondo islamico, seccoli XII – XVII, ed. Simonetta Cavaciocchi, Florence: Le Monnier, 905-960.
This article is available on line
For mercantilists, gold and silver are not just mediums of exchange but the most tangible form of wealth (store of value) and a country’s veritable life-blood. In their view, the economic contraction of the later 14th and 15th centuries were caused by the outflow of precious metal to the East (p.905). But according to J. H. Munro, there was no such thing as a ‘bullion famine’, at worst some “periodic scarcity of coined money” in 1320-1340, 1370-1420, and 1440-1470 (p.906). Read the rest of this entry »
February 22, 2009
Epstein Stephen R. (2000) “The origins of protoindustry, c.1300-c.1550”, in idem Freedom and Growth. The rise of states and markets in Europe, 1300-1750, New York/London: Routledge/LSE, p.106-146.
“The growth of rural and small town textile manufactures for regional and supra-regional markets was among the most significant features of the late medieval economy” (p.106). It is usually assumed that this phenomenon arose due to the diseconomies caused by the inflexibility of the urban craft guilds, using the available underemployed rural workforce, and to respond to the increased popular demand for consumer goods following the shift in terms of trade between capital and labour which followed the Black Death. Read the rest of this entry »
February 9, 2009
Brenner, Robert (1976) “Agrarian class structure and economic development in pre-industrial Europe”, Past and Present, 70/1, 30-75.
In this article, the author offers one of the most commented “general interpretations of the processes of long-term economic change in late medieval and early modern Europe”. He rejects the rigid Malthusian theory based solely on the laws of supply and demand and introduces class struggle as the key element driving European pre-industrial economic history (p.30). Read the rest of this entry »
February 6, 2009
Pamuk, Şevket (2007) “The Black Death and the origins of the ‘Great Divergence’ across Europe, 1300-1600”, European Review of Economic History, 11/3, 289-317.
Recent historiography has dramatically changed the way the impact of the Black Death on the European economy was perceived. It came to be seen as a ‘creative destruction’ process, a source of “long-term changes that paved the way for the emergence of modern Europe” (p.290). In their research for the origins of the Industrial Revolution and the Rise of the West, historians have also pointed out the significance of the differences in real wages between Northwestern Europe and the Mediterranean world (p.291). Yet, the wages gap between these two regions originated even before the 1600s (p.292).
Read the rest of this entry »
January 31, 2009
De Moor, Tine and van Zanden Jan Luiten (2005) “Girlpower. The European Marriage Pattern and labour markets in the North Sea region in the late medieval and early modern period” in The Rise, Organozation, and Institutional Framework of Factor Markets, iisg.nl/hpw/factormarket.php, 25p.
The European Marriage Pattern (EMP) was one of the most striking features of the Western European society in the Early Modern Period (late marriage, high number of single women). The authors concentrate on the “underlying structure or mechanism” that led to the EMP (p.2).
In the 9th century, the Catholic Church adopted the principle of mutual consent as the basis of marriage (p.3). Spouses were even permitted to perform the sacrament themselves and if need be in secret. The parents had officially lost any authority upon their children’s marital life. Despites resistance among the aristocracy, by the 15th century, the doctrine of consensual marriage was widespread. 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 »