Opper S. (1993): the incredible story of the fleeing Dutchmen

December 13, 2010

Oppers, Stefan E. (1993) The Interest Rate Effect of Dutch Money in Eighteen-Century Britain. The Journal of Economic History, 53/1: 25-43.

Dutch citizens invested heavily in Britain over the 18th century. Even though the English themselves regarded this phenomenon as a necessary evil, it greatly help the Crown to levy the necessary capital for its expenses over the century (p.28). In the 1740s Dutch financiers in London had become critical for the funding of the government’s deficit. To a large extent it can even be said that the Seven Years War was won thanks to foreign money.

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Fontaine L. (2008) When relief is worth more than a treasure

October 8, 2009

Fontaine, Laurence (2008) “Entre banque et assistance: la création des monts-de-piété”, chapter 6 in L’Economie morale. Pauvreté, crédit et confiance dans l’Europe préindustrielle. Paris : Gallimard, p.164-189.

Picture 2fontaine02FileMonte di pietà dei pilli, before 1880

The first Monti di Pietà (or mounts) were created in 15th-century Italy by Recollet monks to shield the less-fortunate from the scourge of usury. It was not so much intended to pool the poor out of misery as to provide the struggling middle dwellers with a last safety net before falling into poverty (p.164). In the peninsula, the capital hoarded in the safes of the mounts was often diverted from its original aim to be loaned to the rich. It prevented the Italian mounts from becoming really successful. However their model spread over Europe. Read the rest of this entry »

Glorious Revolution Week, the end: are institutional economics a gamy theory?

August 15, 2009

The Glorious Revolution is a cardinal event in the eyes of modern economic historiography. Not only did it provide the setting for the Industrial Revolution, but it also became a textbook example of the impact of institutional change upon the economy. The 1989 article by North and Weingast is said to be the most quoted in the discipline. Indeed it formalized the process of historical change, but also strongly hinted at what good institutions should be. Read the rest of this entry »

North D. and Weingast B. (1989) The economic impact of institutions

August 14, 2009

North, Douglass C. and Barry Weingast (1989) “Constitution and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutional Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England”, The Journal of Economic History, 49/4: 803-832.

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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).

“Put simply, successful long-run economic performance requires appropriate incentives not only for economic actors but for political actors as well. Because the state has a comparative advantage in coercion, what prevents it from using violence to extract all the surplus?” Read the rest of this entry »

Hoffman P., Postel-Vinay G. and Rosenthal J.-L. (1992) Private credit market in Paris

March 28, 2009

Hoffman, Philip T., Postel-Vinay, Gilles, and Rosenthal, Jean-Laurent (1992) “Private Credit Markets in Paris, 1690-1840”, The Journal of Economic History, 52/2, 293-306.



In Ancien Régime France, “credit assumed such importance that, as one historian suggest, an 18th-century person’s very reputation was bound up with his ability to obtain loans.” Until the late 19th century, the usual intermediaries on the credit market were not banks but notaries (p.294). Notarial offices recorded families’ transactions for generations, notaries thus enjoyed a unique ability to access information on the parties’ financial history. Their intimate knowledge of a person’s position allowed them to match borrowers and lenders, often on short notice. Read the rest of this entry »

Shatzmiller J. (1990) “The best Jew in the world”: another look at medieval Jewish usury

January 15, 2009

Joseph Shatzmiller (1990) Shylock reconsidered: Jews, Moneylending, and Medieval Society, Berkeley, University of California Press, 250p.*


From February to July 1317, a trial opposing a Jewish moneylender called Bondavin to his client Laurent Girard took place in Marseille. Bondavin accused Laurent of not having paid back a 60-sols loan (15). A significant sum, but nothing extraordinary compared to Bondavin own’s fortune (certainly several hundred pounds) (21). So why did Bondavin engaged in a procedure if not for money? Read the rest of this entry »