Saito, O. and T. Settsu: one banker v. seven samurais

December 20, 2010

Saito, Osamu and Tokihiko Settsu (2006) Money, credit and Smithian growth in Tokugawa Japan. Hitotsubashi University. Institute of Economic Research. Discussion Paper #139.

In Osaka, Japan’s commercial capital, under the Tokugawa, rich merchants began to add to their functions that of lender to the mighty overlords (daymo) who needed to transform the production of their domain in bullion in order to cover their expenses in Edo and the taxes due to the Shogun (p.2). At the time, the country was segmented in small local capital market and no security was traded over the whole country. Despite those limitations, the rural industries did grow over the period, yet for that they had to have access to some fundings. Where did this capital come from? (p.3)

This wholesaler system arose in replacement of an inexistent banking sector (p.4). However this organization favored greatly the Osaka merchant who managed to impose de facto their service as a necessary precondition to any industrial or agricultural endeavor (p.5). But at that time, local merchants took on Osaka’s oligopoly.

To develop the production and trade of a wealth of proto-industrial products, they started delivering themselves those products to Edo, thus by-passing the Osaka intermediaries. Local lords backed these initiatives, for instance by issuing bank notes (hansatsu) to remedy to the dramatic shortages of money (p.9). However often successful, these initiatives led to a quick segmentation of the Japanese capital market and each of these small areas suffered from high interest rates (more than 18%), while at the same time interest rates in Osaka kept following (p.10).

A system, close to the earlier one arose after the Meiji Revolution, but this time with several commercial cities as the center of the operations instead of Osaka alone (p.13).

Clingingsmith D. and Williamson J. (2008) The world conjuration against the Indian industry

August 2, 2009

Clingingsmith, David and Williamson, Jeffrey G. (2008) “Deindstrialization in 18th and 19th century India: Mughal decline, climate shocks and British industrial ascent”, Exploration in Economic History, 45/3, 209-234.

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Between 1700 and 1900, India went from being an industrial powerhouse to forgotten backwater. Why didn’t India manage to retain its edge and how did Britain overtake the giant? Read the rest of this entry »

Çizaka M. (1980) Europe and the desindustrialization of the Ottoman Empire

March 2, 2009

Çizakca, Murat (1980) “Price History and the Bursa Silk Industry: A Study in Ottoman Industrial Decline, 1550-1650”, The Journal of Economic History, 40/3, 533-550.



“The Ottoman Empire, which covered most of Eastern Europe and the Near East in the sixteenth century, did not escape the worldwide inflation that is generally known as the ‘price revolution’” (p.533). The price series of this article are based on the estimates made by the kadi of the Bursa court in numerous inheritance cases (p.535). Raw silk prices jumped from 73.8 akçes on average in 1550-70 to 290.4 on average in 1620-40, a 293% increase (±8.5% yearly inflation; p.536). Read the rest of this entry »

Epstein S. R. (2000) The origins of protoindustry

February 22, 2009

Epstein Stephen R. (2000) “The origins of protoindustry, c.1300-c.1550”, in idem Freedom and Growth. The rise of states and markets in Europe, 1300-1750, New York/London: Routledge/LSE, p.106-146.



“The growth of rural and small town textile manufactures for regional and supra-regional markets was among the most significant features of the late medieval economy” (p.106). It is usually assumed that this phenomenon arose due to the diseconomies caused by the inflexibility of the urban craft guilds, using the available underemployed rural workforce, and to respond to the increased popular demand for consumer goods following the shift in terms of trade between capital and labour which followed the Black Death. Read the rest of this entry »

Davis R. (1991) The workers of Venice’s arsenal

February 4, 2009

Davis, Robert C. (1991) Shipbuilders of the Venetian Arsenal. Workers and workplace in the preindustrial city, Baltimore/Londres: John Hopkins University Press, 270p.


While medieval and Renaissance Venice have fascinated historians, less has been written about the city in the 17th century. This book is about the community of the workers of the Arsenal (aka the arsenalotti) from 1620 to 1670.

The Arsenal was created in the 1100s and grew steadily until the 1300s. By that time, it had became a production plant and warehouse reaching a dimension unique in Europe. Read the rest of this entry »

Thompson, J.K.J. (1983) Proto-industry in Languedoc

February 4, 2009

Thompson, J.K.J. (1983) “Variations in industrial structure in pre-industrial Languedoc”, in Berg, Maxine, Hudson, Pat, and Sonenscher, Michael, Manufacture in town and country before the factory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 61-91.


Languedoc hosted France’s (and potentially Europe’s) largest pre-modern concentration of textile textile production (p.61). Yet it does not fit in F. Mendel’s proto-industrialisation model: it was mostly a urban phenomenon, which dated back from the Middle Ages and it did not lead to a regional Industrial Revolution after 1800 (p.62). Read the rest of this entry »

Sousa F. (2005) Silk industry in northeastern Portugal (15th-19th century)

July 20, 2008

De Sousa Fernando (2005) “The silk industry in Trás-os-Montes during the Ancient Regime”, e-Journal of Portuguese History, 3/2, 14 p.

This article is available on line.


Trás-os-Montes is located in the North East of Portugal, it is a land-locked region close to the Spanish border. The silk industry started there in the 15th century but silkworms had been reared in the region since the 1200s. Although a significant part of the activity was located in Bragança, lesser towns and the countryside also enjoyed a share of it (Vinhais, Freixo de Espadaà Cinta, Chacim) (1). Read the rest of this entry »