nep-his New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2006‒05‒06
eight papers chosen by
Bernardo Batiz-Lazo
Bristol Business School

  1. A Sheep in a Wolf\'s Skin? The Spanish Mesta in Medieval and Early Modern Periods. By Drelichman, Mauricio
  2. Sir George Caswall vs. the Duke of Portland: Financial Contracts and Litigation in the wake of the South Sea Bubble By Gary S. Shea
  3. A Hands-off Central Banker? Marriner S. Eccles and the Federal Reserve Policy, 1934-1951 By Matias Vernengo
  4. The German industrial Census of 1936, statistics as preparation for the war By Fremdling, Rainer
  5. From Farmers to Merchants: A Human Capital Interpretation of Jewish Economic History By Maristella Botticini; Zvi Eckstein
  6. On the Importance of Finnishing School: Half a Century of Inter-Generational Economic Mobility in Finland By Sari Pekkala; Robert E. B. Lucas
  7. The Rise and Fall of the Land Myth in Japan By Shigeki Morinobu
  8. The fiscal role of conscription in the US World War II effort By Siu, Henry

  1. By: Drelichman, Mauricio
    Abstract: The Mesta was the national association of the migratory sheperds of Castile, controlling fine wool production between the thirteenth and the nineteenth centuries. Its royally granted privileges, which included rights of passage and rent controls for its pastures, have been blamed for the stagnation of Spanish agricultural productivity during the Early Modern period. I argue that the Mesta privileges allowed Medieval Castile to develop its comparative advantage in wool, and that the Crown was able to restrict their scope and application when economic conditions favored farming interest. I support my argument with a new series of wool prices for the second half of the sixteenth century, and with a detailed analysis of the appellate lawsuits to which the Mesta was a part during its life.
    JEL: N0 N43 N50
    Date: 2006–04–24
  2. By: Gary S. Shea
    Abstract: An investigation into the legal wrangles between the first Duke of Portland and his financial antagonists, in particular Sir George Caswall, helps illustrate the nature of private financial contracting during the South Sea Bubble. It also illustrates the special costs of enforcing such contracting after the Bubble. This paper is but a beginning to a wider study of the legal aftermath of the Bubble and the contribution of early modern financial contracting to the general law of contract.
    Keywords: South Sea Company, Bentinck family, Financial Revolution, Bubble Act, legal history.
    JEL: G13 N23
    Date: 2006–04
  3. By: Matias Vernengo
    Abstract: Marriner Eccles is often seen as an early defender of Keynesian ideas. In that respect, it is generally accepted that he considered monetary policy of secondary importance, and that as a result he allowed the Federal Reserve to be submitted to the interests of the Treasury. In this view, the Federal Reserve after 1935 acquired new instruments to command monetary policy, but it did not change its behavior significantly. Further, his defense of the Federal Reserve-Treasury accord in 1951 is sometimes seen as a reversal of his previous policy stances. This paper claims that proper understanding of Eccles’ views is necessary to appreciate the changes in monetary policy during the Great Depression and World War II. Rather than a hands-off central banker, that submitted the Fed to the Treasury, a more proper depiction of Eccles tenure at the Fed would be as a Main Street chairman.
    Keywords: History of Thought, Keynesians, Federal Reserve History
    JEL: B22 B31 E12 E58
    Date: 2006–04
  4. By: Fremdling, Rainer (Groningen University)
    Abstract: In 1936, the Imperial Statistical Office of Germany carried out an industrial census using the concept of net-production or value-added. In 1939, these statistics were published with strategic sectors such as aircraft industry being hidden. Originally, this census and its forerunner of 1933 had been designed to compile an input-output-table for Germany as a basis for managing the business cycle. Finally, these date were used for constructing detailed material balance sheets, which served as a statistical basis for preparing the war.
    Date: 2005
  5. By: Maristella Botticini (Institute for Economic Development, Boston University); Zvi Eckstein (Tel Avive University)
  6. By: Sari Pekkala (Government Institute for Economic Research); Robert E. B. Lucas (Institute for Economic Development, Boston University)
    Abstract: Trends in inter-generational economic mobility in Finland are analyzed using panel data from 1950 through 1999 on more than 200 thousand sons and daughters born between 1930 and 1970. A significant decline is estimated in the inter-generational transmission elasticity from the 1930 birth cohort until the baby boom cohorts of the early1950s. After that we observe no increase in the extent of mobility for 1950s and 1960s birth cohorts. The result holds both for sons and daughters. The quite dramatic transformation of the Finnish economy in the second half of the twentieth century is outlined in the paper. However, a decomposition of the inter-generational transmission elasticities across cohorts shows that most of the decline in transmission reflected a reduction in the impact of family income on duration of children’s education accompanied by a decline in the returns to schooling. Despite the large volume of rural–urban migration during this period of transformation, regional mobility played only a minor role in increasing economic mobility.
    Keywords: Inter-generational mobility, cohorts, education, migration
    JEL: J62
  7. By: Shigeki Morinobu (MOF - Ministry of Finance Japan)
    Abstract: In Japan, the so-called bubble economy started from the latter half of the 1980s. Then the bubble burst and Japan entered the “lost decade” of the 90s - a long-lasting period of depression and deflation not experienced by any other country since World War II. This paper picks out some lessons that should be learnt from Japan’s experiences, by studying the factors and political problems that powered the bubble economy.
    Keywords: land prices, taxation, bubble economy, asset value
    JEL: E62 Q15 R52
    Date: 2006–03
  8. By: Siu, Henry
    Abstract: I consider the role of conscription as a fiscal shock absorber in times of war. Conscription of military personnel allows the fiscal authority to minimize wartime government expenditure, and hence, minimize tax distortions associated with war finance. I develop a simple dynamic general equilibrium model to articulate this view, and calibrate the model to mimic the U.S. World War II experience. Analysis of the calibrated model indicates that the value of conscription as a fiscal policy tool is quantitatively large.
    Date: 2006–04–26

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