December 25, 2009
Kindleberger, Charles P. (1991) The economic Crisis of 1619 and 1623. The Journal of Economic History, 51/1 : 149-175.
The early European 17th century has commonly been described as the troublesome transition from a medieval to a modern economy (p.149). The multi-layered crisis of 1619-23 is a perfect embodiment of the woes of the time. However, the author’s “interest in that crisis does not concern its potential role as a catalyst of modern economies, but rather its function in the mechanism for the spread of a primarily financial crisis from one part of Europe to another” (p.150). Read the rest of this entry »
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.
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 »
August 7, 2009
- Robert Lucas, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and 1995 Nobel Prize in Economics, wrote a welcome defense of the predictive power of economics-as-it-is, on occasion of The Economist’s recent criticism on the discipline.
- Lord Robert Skidelsky, Keynes’s biographer and Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick, also argues in defence of economics in spite of the Queen’s interpellation to the discipline. Here you can read it in the Financial Times and here in his personal website.
- An interesting article in the NYT on statistics as a profession that faces growing demand and even better salaries.
- A neat note in The Economist on “The Slide to Protectionism in the Great Depression: Who Succumbed and Why“, an NBER working paper by Barry Eichengreen, Professor of Economics and Political Science in the University of California at Berkeley, and Douglas Irwin, Professor of Arts and Sciences in Dartmouth College.
- An article in The Economist on a new Museum of Handbags and Purses in Amsterdam, with historical evidence of the non-metrosexuality of male purses. Here’s an excerpt:
The very first object on display—the oldest in the collection—proves that man bags are nothing new. It is a 16th-century pouch made of creamy white kid skin. The surface is decorated with rosettes and 18 tiny pockets of the same soft leather. It was probably made for a travelling merchant. At the time men’s clothes did not have pockets, and the bag provided a quickly accessible sorting system for multiple currencies, each pocket reserved for the coins of a particular city.
That’s it for now. I can’t wait to read Ben’s opinion on the WEHC in Utrecht.
July 22, 2009
Recently Michael Hirsh interviewed monetary historian Anna Schwartz for Newsweek. She doesn’t sound happy at all about the state of monetary policy in the face of the financial crisis. Excerpts:
Anna Schwartz is 93 and has been working at the same place since 1941. She’s that rarity in economics, or indeed any field: a living legend from another era who hasn’t lost a step mentally and who grasps everything that’s going on around her in the present. Or at least she seems to—but more on that later. Schwartz is one of the most renowned monetary scholars in the world. She’s the woman who authored, with Milton Friedman, The Monetary History of the United States—the book that launched the free-market counterattack against Keynesianism in the early ’60s. And now, as she surveys the wreckage of the last two years, Schwartz has one thought: if only Milton were here. “Ever since his death I have lamented the fact that he has not been around to express his views on what’s going on,” she told me the other day at her mid-Manhattan office at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
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July 6, 2009
I recently found out about Peter L. Bernstein (1919-2009), a popular American economist and financial historian. I must confess I haven’t read any of his books, but will surely read them after having learned from his life.
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July 1, 2009
Conor Clarke, an economic and financial journalist working at TheAtlantic.com, interviewed Professor Paul Samuelson. Here is part 1 and part 2. This interview is interesting, for Samuelson offers his personal views on the economic policy’s response to the crisis. Samuelson asserts an interesting recommendation for economists: do study economic history.
Q: Very last thing. What would you say to someone starting graduate study in economics? Where do you think the big developments in modern macro are going to be, or in the micro foundations of modern macro? Where does it go from here and how does the current crisis change it?
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June 17, 2009
Marketplace is an American Public Media production that caught my attention some months ago, due to the quality of the contents.
Now, courtesy of Felix Salmon, I found out that Marketplace has a special series, Taking Stock, where economists give their point of view on the current economic situation.
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April 13, 2009
Gelderblom, Oscar and Jonker, Joost (2004) “Completing a Financial Revolution: The Finance of the Dutch East India Trade and the Rise of the Amsterdam Capital Market, 1595-1612”, The Journal of Economic History, 64-3, 641-671.
One of the most commonly mentioned innovations of the British Financial Revolution, which occurred under the reign of William III, is the appearance of a secondary market for public and private securities. The earlier Dutch leg of the Financial Revolution, on the other hand, despite the availability of numerous public securities is usually assumed never to have evolve a meaningful secondary market (p.642). But the authors argue that the creation in 1602 of the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (the Dutch East India Company or VOC) led to the emergence of such a secondary market and that this market yield some of the advantage associated with the British innovations (p.643). Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
August 31, 2008
Durand Robert (2004) “L’or musulman et la formation du Royaume du Portugal” in Michaud Françoise (ed.) Les Relations des pays d’Islam avec le monde latin du milieu du Xe siècle au milieu du XIIIe siècle, Paris, Vuibert, 250-261.
In the early 20th century, M. Lombard proposed the following thesis: the Muslim expansion triggered a major de-hoarding movement of the Sassanid and Byzantine gold reserve held in the newly conquered territories. According to R. Durand, a rather similar event may have followed the Almoravid and Almohad conquests of Spain. And it may have had a significant impact upon the formation of the Portuguese kingdom (p.250). Read the rest of this entry »
January 20, 2008
Flynn Dennis O. (1991) “Comparing the Tokagawa Shogunate with Hapsburg Spain: Two silver-based empires in a global setting”, in Tracy James D. ed., The Political Economy of Merchant Empires. State power and world trade 1350-1750, New York: Cambridge University Press, 332-359.
This book is available on google for every one to read!!!
Estimations find Spanish American empire’s silver production at 300 metric tons per year during the 16th and early 17th century and Japan’s – the second largest world producer – at 200 (332). Over the period, 15,000 tons went from America to Europe and 13,000 directly from Mexico to Philippines (335) Japan exported 10,000 tons (336). Yet, this enormous annual production only represented 1 or 2% of the world’s silver stock at the time. Read the rest of this entry »
October 14, 2007
Jacques Le Goff (1986) La Bourse et la vie. Economie et religion au Moyen Age, Paris, Hachette, 150p.*
After the council of Lateran IV (1215) confessions became private and regular instead of rare and collective. The individual became responsible of his own sins instead of assuming his share of the sins of the whole society. Pawnbrokers are thus suddenly singled out by the church as symbol of cupidity at a time when the central quality put forward by the Church was poverty. Read the rest of this entry »