Goldstone J. A. (1998) The Problem of the ‘Early Modern’ World’

May 4, 2008

Goldstone Jack A. (1998) “The Problem of the ‘Early Modern’ World”, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 41/3, 249-284.


Goldstone proposes here his elegant “own interpretation with minimal defence”(271) of what was the pre-modern world and what brought the modern one. Was there such a thing as an “early modern” period for each nation and the world in general? Goldstone argues, this period was neither “modern” nor “early”. Read the rest of this entry »

Brad Delong’s morning coffee: why study economic history?

March 31, 2008

It goes without saying but it goes so much better when you say it so intelligently.

Kelly M. (1997) The dynamics of Smithian growth

February 24, 2008

KELLY Morgan (1997) “The Dynamics of Smithian Growth”, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112/3, 939-964.

Smithian progress (i.e. the understanding that specialization causes output to rise first articulated by Adam Smith) is neglected by economists because it is perceived as gradual (unlike the sudden growth caused by innovation, learning by doing and private capital accumulation). But the author dismisses the idea that Smithian growth is necessarily gradual. Read the rest of this entry »

Ogilvie S. (2007) Economic institutions in pre-industrial Europe

September 30, 2007

I’ll start my blog by a summary of a brilliant article published in an excellent review. For almost two decades now, economic historians have been toying with the concept of institutions. Everything has been said about it, and more often than not it led nowhere. This article is not revolutionary nor does it open a brand new field or create a new debate. On the contrary, this article ends a debate – for a while at least; and that is every bit as important.

OGILVIE Sheilagh (2007) “‘Whatever is, is right’? Economic institutions in pre-industrial Europe”, Economic Histroy Review, 60/4, 649-684.

Le serment du jeu de Paume

Introduction: De gustibus non est disputantum

Before the introduction of the concept of institutions, economic history was chiefly concerned with the natural endowment of a given region and the technological advancement of a given time. Anything else was considered to depends on preferences which were deemed stable, exogenous and not really worth debating (649). But gradually man-made rules (be it political or social) appeared to be too important to be ignored. These ‘humanely devised constraints’ became the new craze in economic history (650). Read the rest of this entry »