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).


Kim S. (2006) Division of labour and the rise of cities

December 28, 2008

Kim Sukkoo [2006] “Division of labor and the rise of cities: evidence from US industrialization, 1850-1880”, Journal of Economic Geography, 6/3, 469-491.

“In the USA, the Industrial Revolution occurred in two distinct phases between the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. Between 1820 and 1840, early industrialization began in New England as manufacturing re-organized from artisanal shops to non-mechanized factories in a relatively small number of industries such as textile, leather, and shoes. In the second phase of industrialisation, which occurred between 1850 and 1920, factory production rose in scale, became mechanized, and spread to numerous industries and to the North-eastern region known as the manufacturing belt” (p.469). Read the rest of this entry »