Sylla R. (2002) Financial sytems and economic growth

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 »

Grantham G. (1999) Contra Ricardo: unexpected growth

December 21, 2008

Grantham George (1999) “Contra Ricardo: On the macroeconomics of pre-industrial economies”, European Review of Economic History, 2/2, 199-232.


The Classical Approach (Ricardian trap): “The narrative line of [European] history is driven by a sequence of exogenous productivity and mortality shocks that worked themselves out in time through the feedbacks between living standards and population density, in which periods of growth were succeeded by periods of contraction induced” by declining labour productivity.”
Read the rest of this entry »

Britnell R. H. (2001) Specialization in England, 1100-1300

January 27, 2008

Britnell Richard H. (2001) “Specialization of work in England, 1100-1300”, Economic History Review, 54/1, 1-16.


The 12th and 13th centuries experienced growing population. The more people, the more likely it is that some will become specialized in an activity where they enjoy a comparative advantage (see Adam Smith). Persson has estimated that this led to a 0.1 to 0.25 yearly increase of productivity per caput in England over two centuries (i.e. between 22 and 62% for the whole period). But to what extend the period’s productivity gains are attributable to specialization? Read the rest of this entry »