Flandreau M. et al. (2009) The question was not how to develop finance

August 30, 2009

Flandreau, Marc, Christophe Galimard, Clemens Jobst and Pilar Nogués-Marco (2009) “The bell-jar: commercial interest rates betwee two revolutions” in The Origin and Development of Financial Markets and Institutions. From the Seventeenth Century to the Present, eds. Jeremy Atack and Larry Neal, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 161-208.

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An earlier version of this paper is available here.

For institutionalist economists as well as for contemporary commentators, the wealth of nations in 18th century Europe was rooted in their political system which influenced the level of interest rates and thus trade (p.165). The confidence investors had in the government’s credit was thus seen as critical (tellingly John Law’s primary aim was to bring interest rates down; p.166). Read the rest of this entry »

Ogilvie S. (2001) The economic world of the Bohemian serf

June 30, 2009

Ogilvie, Sheilagh (2001) “The Economic World of the Bohemian Serf: Economic Concepts, Preferences, and Constraints on the Estate of Friedland, 1583-1692”, The Economic History Review, 54/3, 430-453.

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Economic backwardness in the countryside now and then has often been explained by the peasants’ wholly different decision-making process for economic-related activities. The rural dwellers are said to “lack the concept of costs and profits, and abhor markets, money, and individual gain” (p.430). They’re reputed irrational (p.431).

Read the rest of this entry »

Daudin G. (2008) Is my market bigger than yours?

June 20, 2009

Daudin Guillaume (2008) “Domestic trade and market size in late eighteen-century France”, Oxford University: Discussion Papers in Economic and Social History, 32p.

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This article is available on line


The sheer size of the British market is rarely assumed to be a major explanation of the Industrial Revolution. Britons were less numerous than many other people on the continent but low transportation costs and higher density may have created a more integrated economy and thus a larger market. In this paper, the author uses the Tableaux du Maximum (statistics collected in 1794) to estimate whether France was significantly less integrated than England (p.2). Read the rest of this entry »

Mitchener K. and Ohnuki M. (2009) Capital integration in Japan

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 »

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 »

O’Rourke K. and Williamson J. (2006) Did Vasco da Gama matter for European markets?

August 10, 2008

O’Rourke Kevin H. and Williamson Jeffrey G. (2006) “Did Vasco da Gama matter for European markets? Testing Frederick Lanes hypotheses fifty years later”, IIIS Discussion Paper, 118, 53p.

This paper is available on line.

Summary: In this article, the authors argue against F. C. Lanes’ traditional thesis which considered that the Portuguese discoveries had little long-lasting effect on the European spices markets. They show that the Portuguese route did decrease the spices prices in 16th-century Europe. Moreover they contributed to the creation of an integrated European market for luxury goods that did not exist before 1500. They conclude by saying that the European consumers were ultimately the main beneficiaries ofda Gama’s voyage. Read the rest of this entry »

Epstein S. R. (2000) The late medieval integration crisis

April 6, 2008

Epstein Stephen R. (2000) “The late medieval crisis as “integration crisis’” in idem Freedom and Growth. The rise of states and markets in Europe, 1300-1750, New York/London: Routledge/LSE, 38-72.


The post-war historians thought ‘traditional societies’ did not experienced growth in per caput income due to the lack of technological innovation. But recent research has shown they could be much more productive then formerly thought, so pre-modern societies operated well below their potential: technology was not a fundamental constraint. In agriculture, only a handful of regions were reaching their technological frontier: Essex, Flanders, Lombardy, etc. Elsewhere, the bulk of the medieval innovations was still to be introduced (38). Commercial progress also allowed specialisation to take place, but warfare regularly reversed these improvements (39). Read the rest of this entry »