New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2006‒09‒16
nine papers chosen by

  1. A Conceptual World: Why the Art of the Twentieth Century is So Different From the Art of All Earlier Centuries By David W. Galenson
  2. From Farmers to Merchants, Voluntary Conversion and Diaspora: A Human Capital Interpretation of Jewish History By Maristella Botticini; Zvi Eckstein
  3. Swiss Exchange Rate Policy in the 1930s. Was the Delay in Devaluation Too High a Price to Pay for Conservatism? By Michael Bordo; Thomas Helbling; Harold James
  5. History and Unique Features of the Farm Credit System By Harl, Neil E.
  6. A Companion to "The Origin and Diffusion of Shocks to Regional Interest Rates in the United States, 1880-2002." By Hugh Rockoff; John Landon-Lane
  7. Changes in the Federal Reserve's Inflation Target: Causes and Consequences By Peter N. Ireland
  8. El sistema financiero y el Banco de la Republica en Santander By Amilcar Mojica Pimiento; Joaquín Paredes Vega
  9. El cultivo del fique en el Departamento de Santander By Amilcar Mojica Pimiento; Joaquín Paredes Vega

  1. By: David W. Galenson
    Abstract: This paper surveys 31 new genres of art that were invented during the twentieth century, chronologically from collage, papier colle, and readymades through installation, performance, and earthworks. This unprecedented proliferation in art forms was a direct consequence of the dominant role of conceptual innovation in the century's art, as a series of young iconoclasts deliberately broke the conventions and rules of existing artistic practice in the process of devising new ways to express their ideas and emotions. This overview affords a more precise understanding of one conspicuous and important way in which twentieth-century art differed from that of all earlier eras. The proliferation of genres has fragmented the advanced art world. A century ago, a great painter could influence nearly all advanced artists, but today it is virtually impossible for any one artist to influence practitioners of genres as diverse as painting, video, and installation. This survey also underscores the central role of Picasso in the advanced art of the past century, as he not only created the first, and one of the most important, of the new genres, but in doing so he also provided a new model of artistic behavior that became an inspiration for many other young conceptual artists.
    JEL: J0
    Date: 2006–08
  2. By: Maristella Botticini; Zvi Eckstein
    Abstract: From the end of the second century C.E., Judaism enforced a religious norm requiring any Jewish father to educate his children. We present evidence supporting our thesis that this exogenous change in the religious and social norm had a major influence on Jewish economic and demographic history. First, the high individual and community cost of educating children in subsistence farming economies (2nd to 7th centuries) prompted voluntary conversions, which account for a large share of the reduction in the size of the Jewish population from about 4.5 million to 1.2 million. Second, the Jewish farmers who invested in education, gained the comparative advantage and incentive to enter skilled occupations during the vast urbanization in the newly developed Muslim Empire (7th and 8th centuries) and they actually did select themselves into these occupations. Third, as merchants the Jews invested even more in education–a pre-condition for the extensive mailing network and common court system that endowed them with trading skills demanded all over the world. Fourth, the Jews generated a voluntary diaspora by migrating within the Muslim Empire, and later to western Europe where they were invited to settle as high skill intermediaries by local rulers. By 1200, the Jews were living in hundreds of towns from England and Spain in the West to China and India in the East. Fifth, the majority of world Jewry (about one million) lived in the Near East when the Mongol invasions in the 1250s brought this region back to a subsistence farming economy in which many Jews found it difficult to enforce the religious norm regarding education, and hence, voluntarily converted, exactly as it had happened centuries earlier.
    Keywords: social norms, religion, human capital, Jewish economic and demographic history, occupational choice, migration.
    JEL: J1 J2 N3 O1 Z12 Z13
    Date: 2006
  3. By: Michael Bordo; Thomas Helbling; Harold James
    Abstract: In this paper we examine the experience of Switzerland’s devaluation in 1936. The Swiss case is of interest because Switzerland was a key member of the gold bloc, and much of the modern academic literature on the Great Depression tries to explain why Switzerland and the other gold bloc countries, France, and the Netherlands, remained on the gold standard until the bitter end. We ask the following questions: what were the issues at stake in the political debate? What was the cost to Switzerland of the delay in the franc devaluation? What would have been the costs and benefits of an earlier exchange rate policy? More specifically, what would have happened if Switzerland had either joined the British and devalued in September 1931, or followed the United States in April 1933? To answer these questions we construct a simple open economy macro model of the interwar Swiss economy. On the basis of this model we then posit counterfactual scenarios of alternative exchange rate pegs in 1931 and 1933. Our simulations clearly show a significant and large increase in real economic activity. If Switzerland had devalued with Britain in 1931, the output level in 1935 would have been some 18 per cent higher than it actually was in that year. If Switzerland had waited until 1933 to devalue, the improvement would have been about 15 per cent higher. The reasons Switzerland did not devalue earlier reflected in part a conservatism in policy making as a result of the difficulty of making exchange rate policy in a democratic setting and in part the consequence of a political economy which favored the fractionalization of different interest groups.
    JEL: N1 N13
    Date: 2006–08
  4. By: Chris Minns; Mary MacKinnon
    Abstract: We construct consumer price indices for Canada, mainly based on the expenditure records of Canada's federal penitentiaries. Regional price variation was much greater in Canada in the late nineteenth century than in the northern U.S. The new data suggest substantial price decline to 1900. Regional price variation in Canada decreased gradually to 1914, and quickly during the First World War. For 1900-14 and 1922-3, new data are largely consistent with consumer price data compiled by The Labour Gazette. The new data suggest more inflation during the First World War.
    Date: 2006–08
  5. By: Harl, Neil E.
    Abstract: Not available
    Date: 2006–09–08
  6. By: Hugh Rockoff (Rutgers); John Landon-Lane (Rutgers)
    Abstract: This paper contains all of the statistical results underlying our paper "The Origin and Diffusion of Shocks to Regional Interest Rates in the United States, 1880-2002." It also contains a table of the underlying data, and a discussion of how the data was constructed.
    Keywords: interest rates, monetary unions
    JEL: N22
    Date: 2006–07–31
  7. By: Peter N. Ireland
    Abstract: This paper estimates a New Keynesian model to draw inferences about the behavior of the Federal Reserve's unobserved inflation target. The results indicate that the target rose from 1 1/4 percent in 1959 to over 8 percent in the mid-to-late 1970s before falling back below 2 1/2 percent in 2004. The results also provide some support for the hypothesis that over the entire postwar period, Federal Reserve policy has systematically translated short-run price pressures set off by supply-side shocks into more persistent movements in inflation itself, although considerable uncertainty remains about the true source of shifts in the inflation target.
    JEL: E31 E32 E52
    Date: 2006–08
  8. By: Amilcar Mojica Pimiento; Joaquín Paredes Vega
    Abstract: La historia de los bancos en el Estado Soberano de Santander, se atribuyó a un grupo ilustre de santandereanos que fundaron la primera sociedad bancaria en la región en 1872, la cual se denominó Banco de Santander, sumándose a ella el Banco de Pamplona, el Prendario de Soto y el del Norte. No obstante, la debilidad de estas entidades fue producto de la decadencia durante el siglo XIX de la región santandereana, afectada por problemas de violencia y crisis política. Sin embargo, un nuevo proceso evolutivo que conllevó un reordenamiento financiero, trajo como consecuencia la creación de nuevas instituciones, especialmente el Banco de la República establecido como Instituto Central de Emisión de Colombia en desarrollo de la Ley 25 de 1923, cuya estructura se descentralizó con la apertura de las primeras oficinas regionales con carácter de agencias, en varias ciudades del país, entre ellas Bucaramanga.
    Date: 2006–03–30
  9. By: Amilcar Mojica Pimiento; Joaquín Paredes Vega
    Abstract: El fique es una planta originaria de la América Tropical, su cultivo se da de manera particular en las zonas andinas de Colombia, Venezuela y Ecuador, en nuestro país su siembra se realiza en la parte alta de la sierra templada y fría. El proceso de desfibración de la hoja se realizaba de forma manual y su hilado de igual forma o en telares. Los talleres artesanales se fueron desarrollando poco a poco y la demanda de productos, en especial la de costales, aumentó de manera considerable hacia finales del siglo XIX, con el inicio de las exportaciones de café. Durante el siglo XX, la producción industrial a gran escala logra su mayor auge en los años 50 y finales de los 70. Su cultivo es óptimo en climas templados y secos, en temperaturas que oscilan entre los 19º y 32º centígrados con una humedad relativa entre el 70 y 90%, y una pluviosidad de 300 a 1.600 mm anuales, a una altitud entre 1.300 y 2.800 metros sobre el nivel del mar. El fique se siembra en el país con mayor énfasis en los departamentos de Cauca, Nariño, Santander, Antioquia y Boyacá, siendo el Cauca el mayor productor con más de 7.000 toneladas al año. Por su parte en Santander, se destacan como principales municipios productores: Mogotes y San Joaquín.
    Date: 2006–07–30

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