Finance and gambling in early modern Europe or why Arrow-Debreu can be fun

December 25, 2010

Hedge fund managers playing poker and investment gurus using their skills in casinos are part of the contemporary mythology surrounding the world of finance. This makes it surprising that when Merton listed the functions performed by financial markets and institutions he did not include a very important one: entertainment. Had he considered early modern Europe, the striking resemblance between a casino and a stock exchange would certainly not have eluded him.

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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 »


Quinn S. (2001) Public debt to private finance: “Drop dead”

August 12, 2009

Quinn, Stephen (2001) “The Glorious Revolution’s Effect on English Private Finance: A Microhistory 1680-1705”, The Journal of Economic History, 61/3: 593-615.

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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).

Introduction

According to North and Weingast’s famous thesis, the investiture of William III of England in 1688, the “Glorious Revolution”, triggered a quick modernization of the British financial system – prompting in turn a fall of the interest rates. But the arrival of the new king also led the realm into a new war against France which lasted nine years and increased public debt from £1 million to £19 million (⅓ of the national income; p.593). Read the rest of this entry »