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 »

O’Brien P. (1988) … or why the Brits used to like paying taxes

August 13, 2009

O’Brien, Patrick K. (1988) “The Political Economy of British Taxation, 1660-1815”, The Economic History Review , 41/1, 1-32.

Picture 12Picture 10Picture 11

Disclaimer: this summary is written by the contributors of the blog and not by the author of the article. Any mistake is Manuel’s fault (and he shall be punished).


From the Restoration to Waterloo, warfare occupied nearly half the fiscal years, imposing an ever-increasing burden upon the British taxpayers (p.1). The sudden extra expenditures caused by the conflicts were met not through higher taxes but thanks to loans obtained on the London capital market. The British “tax system was [not] elastic or reliable enough to finance abrupt transitions”. The service of the debt contracted during wars soon took over most of peacetime budget (p.2). Read the rest of this entry »

Ó Gráda, C. (2005) Market and famines in pre-industrial Europe

February 7, 2009

Ó Gráda, Cormac (2005) “Market and famines in pre-industrial Europe”, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 36/2, 143-166.


This article is available online


What caused famines during the premodern period? According to Adam Smith, the government involvement in the grain trade did. Today, many tend to blame the shortcomings of the market (poverty, speculation) for the pre-industrial dearths (p.143). Read the rest of this entry »