nep-his New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2008‒01‒05
twenty-two papers chosen by
Bernardo Batiz-Lazo
University of Leicester

  1. The Sustainable Debts of Philip II: A Reconstruction of Spain's Fiscal Position, 1560-1598 By Drelichman, Mauricio; Voth, Hans-Joachim
  2. Disentangling from Sterling: Malaysia and the end of the Bretton Woods system 1965-72 By Catherine R Schenk
  3. Legal vs economic explanations of the rise in bankruptcies in XIXth century France By Pierre-Cyrille Hautcoeur; Nadine Levratto
  4. “Parallel Worlds“. Clusters for a Theory of Concepts of Communications. Historical Intercultural and Cultural Comparative Studies in Perspectives of National and Transnational Constitutions, Values, Concepts, and Terms of ‘Communication’ - ‘Orality’ - ‘Literacy’ - ‘Rhetoric’ - ‘Media’. By Haase, Fee-Alexandra
  5. Income and wealth concentration in Spain in a historical and fiscal perspective By Facundo Alvaredo; Emmanuel Saez
  6. Wagner's Law in 19th Century Greece: A Cointegration and Causality Analysis By Dimitrios Sideris
  7. The National Banking System: empirical observations By Bruce Champ
  8. Coordinating International Standards: The Formation of the ISO By Yates, JoAnne; Murphy, Craig N.
  9. The Evolution of Tax Morale in Modern Spain By Jorge Martinez-Vazquez; Benno Torgler
  10. Private Deception and the Rise of Public Employment Offices in the United States, 1890 - 1930 By Woong Lee
  11. Function, mind and novelty: organismic concepts and Richard M. Goodwin formation at Harvard, 1932-1934. Insights from his papers at Siena University By Mauro Caminati
  12. Merchants, institutions and the market: changes in the salt trade in early colonial Bengal By Sayako Kanda
  13. Coordination in the History of Economics By Klein, Daniel B.; Orsborn, Aaron
  14. Industrial Promotion in the Peronist governement (1973-1976) By Marongiu, Federico
  15. The Role of Financial Conglomerates in Industry Formation: Evidence from Early Modern Japan By John Tang
  16. Stagnation and Change in Islamic History By Metin M. Cosgel
  17. The 1977 reform of Argentina´s financial system as an essential step for the implementation of the neoliberal model. By Marongiu, Federico
  18. Tax Collection in History By Metin M. Cosgel; Thomas J. Miceli
  19. Organización y trámite de la censura de cuentas de ultramar según la documentación conservada en la sección Tribunal de Cuentas del Archivo General de Indias (1851-1893) By Fernando Gutiérrez Hidalgo
  20. El financiamiento externo de Colombia en el siglo XIX By Mauricio Avella Gómez
  21. Precios y Salarios Urbanos en el Siglo XIX By Miguel Urrutia
  22. La Manumisión en Colombia: 1821 -1851. Un análisis cuantitativo. By Jorge Tovar

  1. By: Drelichman, Mauricio; Voth, Hans-Joachim
    Abstract: The defaults of Philip II have attained mythical status as the origin of sovereign debt crises. The king failed to honour his debts four times during his reign. In this paper, we reassess the fiscal position of Habsburg Spain. New archival evidence allows us to derive comprehensive estimates of debt and revenue. These show that primary surpluses were sufficient to make the king's debt sustainable for most of his reign. Spain's debt burden was manageable up to the 1580s, and its fiscal position only deteriorated for good after the defeat of the "Invincible Armada". We also estimate fiscal policy reaction functions, and show that Spain under the Habsburgs was at least as "responsible" as the US in the 20th century or as Britain in the 18th century. Our results suggest that the outcome of uncertain events such as wars may have more influence on a history of default than strict adherence to fiscal rules.
    Keywords: early modern history; fiscal stability; natural resources; sovereign debt; Spain; sustainability
    JEL: F34 H62 H63 N24 N44
    Date: 2007–12
  2. By: Catherine R Schenk (University of Glasgow)
    Abstract: A decade after independence, the Malaysian government and central bank were faced with a series of challenges that forced them to develop an independent policy, leading to the end of the historic role of sterling in their international monetary regime. Like some economies today that are faced with accumulated reserves largely comprised of a depreciating currency (now the US$), Malaysia had to disentangle itself from sterling at a time when there were no clear alternatives since gold was scarce, the US$ was weak and Germany, Switzerland and Japan resisted the use of their currencies as national reserves. This paper uses new archival evidence to show that external obstacles as well as some misjudgement meant that this was only achieved in June 1972, 15 years after Merdeka. This process also reveals new evidence about the post-colonial relations between Malaysia and Britain and sheds new light on the neo-colonial interpretation of the first decade of independence.
    Date: 2007–12
  3. By: Pierre-Cyrille Hautcoeur; Nadine Levratto
    Abstract: This paper aims at giving an explanation of the changes in the number of bankruptcies during the second part of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. We firstly study the evolution of the French insolvency law and then we introduce some regional aspects. We indeed observe that the court of the District of the Seine is more tolerant than the others; however this kind of use of the law will spread in the other courts until the reform in 1889 that creates the judicial liquidation. The special analysis permits us to show that the changes in the law do not explain the total variations of the total amount of bankruptcies. The local practices and, thus, the way the judicial agents act are also essential in the explanation.
    Keywords: Bankruptcy, Code de commerce, 19th century
    Date: 2007
  4. By: Haase, Fee-Alexandra
    Abstract: This is a study regarding the history of communication based on several clusters traced back from ancient time to the 21st century. It contains also in the second part chapers on the specific conditions of communications in different cultures.
    Keywords: Communication communications media rhetoric
    JEL: Z12 Z13 Z11
    Date: 2008–01–01
  5. By: Facundo Alvaredo; Emmanuel Saez
    Abstract: This paper presents series on top shares of income and wealth in Spain over the 20th century using personal income and wealth tax return statistics. Top income shares are highest in the 1930s, fall sharply during the first two decades of the Franco dictatorship, and have increased slightly since the 1960s, and especially since the mid-1990s. The top 0.01% income share in Spain estimated from income tax data is comparable to estimates for the United States and France over the period 1933-1971. Those findings, along with a careful analysis of all published tax statistics, suggest that income tax evasion and avoidance among top income earners in Spain before 1980 was much less prevalent than previously thought. Wealth concentration has been about stable from 1982 to 2004 as surging real estate prices have benefited the middle class and compensated for a slight increase in financial wealth concentration in the 1990s. We use our wealth series and a simple conceptual model to analyse the effects of the wealth tax exemption of stocks for ownersmanagers introduced in 1994. We show that the reform induced substantial shifting from the taxable to tax exempt status. This shifting has eroded the wealth tax base substantially and hence the tax exemption has generated large efficiency costs.
    Date: 2007
  6. By: Dimitrios Sideris (Bank of Greece and University of Ioannina)
    Abstract: The validity of Wagner’s law, which states that the growth of public expenditure can be explained as a result of the increase in economic activity, is tested for Greece during the period 1833-1938. This represents a period of growth, industrialisation and modernisation of the economy, conditions which should be conducive to Wagner’s law. In addition, the long data sample ensures the reliability of the results in terms of economic significance and statistical inference. Cointegration analysis provides positive evidence for the existence of a long-run relationship between government expenditure and national income, and Granger causality tests indicate that causality runs from income to government expenditure. The results support Wagner’s hypothesis, in line with other empirical studies examining the validity of the hypothesis in 19th century economies.
    Keywords: Public expenditure; Wagner’s law; cointegration.
    JEL: H1 H5 N43 N44
    Date: 2007–12
  7. By: Bruce Champ
    Abstract: This paper provides a summary of the main features of U.S. financial and banking data during the period of the National Banking System (1863–1914). The purpose of the paper is to provide an overview of the stylized facts associated with the era, with an emphasis on those impinging on national bank behavior. The paper takes a detailed look at key elements of national bank balance sheets over time, over the seasons, and during panic periods. The interesting and puzzling patterns of interest rate movements during the era also are examined. The paper introduces a new set of disaggregated data on the national bank era that has not been examined by prior research. As data are presented in the paper, some of the key puzzles associated with the era are introduced.
    Keywords: National banks (United States) ; Banks and banking - History
    Date: 2007
  8. By: Yates, JoAnne; Murphy, Craig N.
    Abstract: In the article on €ܓtandardization€ݠin the 14th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, Paul Gough Agnew, the long-time Secretary of the American Standards Association (ASA), argued: In the flow of products from farm, forest, mine, and sea through processing and fabricating plants, and through wholesale and retail markets to the ultimate consumer, most difficulties are met at the transition points€Ӣpoints at which the product passes from department to department within a company, or is sold by one company to another or to an individual. The main function of standards is to facilitate the flow of products through these transition points. Standards are thus both facilitators and integrators. In smoothing out points of difficulty, or €ܢottlenecks,€ݠthey provide the evolutionary adjustments which are necessary for industry to keep pace with technical advances. They do this in the individual plant, in particular industries, and in industry at large. They are all the more effective as integrators in that they proceed by simple evolutionary steps, albeit inconspicuously.2 Albeit inconspicuous, standard setting has been among the nuts and bolts of globalizing industrial capitalism since its beginning, assuring that things needing to work together fit from product to product, industry to industry, and country to country. The foci of the first two of the now 229 €ܴechnical committees€ݠof the non-specialized international standards organizations that emerged after the two world wars€Դhe interwar International Standards Association [ISA] and the post-World War II International Organization for Standardization [ISO]€ԡre iconic: €ܓcrew Threads€ݠand €܂olts, Nuts and Accessories.€ݠOver the past two decades, voluntary standardization processes, invented by turn-of-the-twentieth-century engineers working in national and international technical committees, have increasingly been 1 We would like to thank Madame Beatrice Frey at ISO for her help in providing us access to original documents from UNSCC and ISO, and Stacy Leistner at ANSI for his help in providing access to the minutes from AESC and ASA meetings. 2 Quoted as epigraph of Dickson Reck, ed., National Standards in a Modern Economy, (New York, 1956), v. 3 applied to issues that have little in common with those of fitting one mechanical part to another, such as work processes (ISO 9000), environmental pollution (ISO 14,000), and human rights (SA 8000 and the planned ISO 26000).
    Keywords: Coordinating, ISO, International Standards,
    Date: 2007–04–13
  9. By: Jorge Martinez-Vazquez (Andrew Young School of Policy Studies); Benno Torgler (World Bank)
    Abstract: This paper studies the evolution of tax morale in Spain in the post-Franco era. In contrast to the previous tax compliance literature, the current paper investigates tax morale as the dependent variable and attempts to answer what actually shapes tax morale. The analysis uses survey data from two sources: the World Values Survey and the European Values Survey, allowing us to observe tax morale in Spain for the years 1981, 1990, 1995, and 1999/2000. The study of the evolution of tax morale in Spain over nearly a 20-year span is particularly interesting because the political and fiscal system evolved very rapidly during that period.
    Keywords: Tax Morale, Spain, tax compliance, fiscal system
    Date: 2007–08–01
  10. By: Woong Lee
    Abstract: At the turn of the 20th century, state and local governments in the United States began to establish public employment offices. These non-profit governmental organizations match job seekers and businesses, one of their main objectives being to protect job seekers from fraudulent activities by private employment agencies. In this paper, I propose a theory that describes the malpractices of private employment agencies as a situation of asymmetric information between job seekers and the private employment agencies, which could cause adverse selection in the labor exchange market. The establishment of public employment offices can be viewed as a policy device to eliminate low-quality private employment agencies committing malpractices. I show that public employment offices helped lower the degree of asymmetric information. The majority of job seekers who used public employment offices were unskilled workers, immigrants, or migrants who were vulnerable to exploitation by private employment agencies. I also find that the role of public employment offices was especially important for interstate migrants who were most lacking in information and networks in their new environment.
    JEL: J4 N3 N4
    Date: 2007–12
  11. By: Mauro Caminati
    Abstract: This paper is concerned with the threads connecting Richard Goodwin's early formation as an Harvard undergraduate student in political science and philosophy, with his life-long concern with the modes in which novelty and innovation enters into social systems and modifies their working. We shall consider the evidence, based on Goodwin’s papers at Siena University, suggesting that Goodwin's interest in the causes and effects of novelty generation in social systems pre-dates the much emphasized acquaintance with Schumpeter, and even the decision to direct his post-graduate formation towards economics. This interest has strong roots in his outspoken involvement with the Marxist political movement in the years 1932-1934, which made him particularly concerned with the relation between the objective historical inheritance and the freedom for innovation and social change embedded in human creativity. Goodwin’s formation on such matters was strongly influenced by the cultural seeds he could harvest, directly or indirectly, through the Harvard scientific and philosophical community and most notably as a result of the intellectual fascination for the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead.
    Keywords: organized system, function, mind, novelty, A. N. Whitehead.
    JEL: B31
    Date: 2007–07
  12. By: Sayako Kanda (Graduate School of Economics, Osaka University)
    Abstract: This paper explores the transformation of the economy and society in early colonial Bengal, roughly between c.1780 and c.1840, through a case study of the salt trade and its changes. It argues that several private trade institutions, particularly various types of intermediaries at different stages of transactions and multi-caste elite organisations, enabled a large flow of commodities, cash, credit and information despite regional and functional divisions in the market as well as social divisions among merchants. The coming of the British led to an expansion of the market and opened up various commercial opportunities to the socially inferior eamateurf merchants, and this led to a confusion in mercantile communities and necessitated a new order among them. By strengthening the functions of those private trade institutions and utilising the new British legal system, mercantile communities managed to accommodate these new merchants and respond to the increased volume of trade.
    Keywords: Colonial Transition, Economic History of India, Private Trade Institutions, Intermediaries, English East India Company
    JEL: N45 N75 Z13
    Date: 2008–01
  13. By: Klein, Daniel B. (George Mason University); Orsborn, Aaron (George Mason University)
    Abstract: We tell of the evolving meaning of the term coordination as used by economists. The paper is based on systematic electronic searches (on “coord,” etc.) of major works and leading journals. The term coordination first emerged in professional economics around 1880, to describe the directed productive concatenation of factors or activities within a firm. Also, transportation economists used the term to describe the concatenation of routes and trips of a transportation system. These usages represent what we term concatenate coordination. The next major development came in the 1930s from several LSE economists (Hayek, Plant, Hutt, and Coase), who extended that concept beyond the eye of any actual coordinator. That is, they wrote of the concatenate coordination of a system of polycentric or spontaneous activities. These various applications of concatenate coordination prevailed until the next major development, namely, Thomas Schelling and game models. Here coordination referred to a mutual meshing of actions. Game theorists developed crisp ideas of coordination games (like “battle of the sexes”), coordination equilibria, convention, and path dependence. This “coordination” was not a refashioning, but rather a distinct concept, one we distinguish as mutual coordination. As game models became more familiar to economists, it was mutual coordination that economists increasingly had in mind when they spoke of “coordination.” Economists switched, so to speak, to a new semantic equilibrium. Now, mutual coordination overshadows the older notion of concatenate coordination, although “Austrian” economists have sustained discussion of concatenate coordination (with unfortunate confusion, we suggest). The two senses of coordination are conceptually distinct and correspond neatly to the two dictionary definitions of the verb to coordinate. Both are crucial to economics. We suggest that distinguishing between the two senses can help to clarify “coordination” talk. Also, compared to talk of “efficiency” and “optimality,” concatenate coordination allows for a richer, more humanistic, and more openly aesthetic discussion of social issues. The narrative is backed up by Excel worksheets that report on systematic content searches of the writings of economics using the worldwide web and, using JSTOR, of Quarterly Journal of Economics, Economic Journal, Journal of Political Economy, American Economic Review, and Economica.
    Keywords: coordination; concatenation; planning; coordination equilibrium; focal point
    JEL: A10 B00 C70 D20
    Date: 2008–01–03
  14. By: Marongiu, Federico
    Abstract: the economic plan of the Peronist governements that were elected in May 1973 and October 1973 gave a central role to the industry as an engine for economic development in Argentina. In the moto "Freedom or Dependence" the susteinable growth in Argentina had a fundamental role that needed the impulse of several industry branches and the national control of the production factors. Within this logic laws like Industrial Promotion Law (Law 20.560) and Foreign Capital Installment Law (Law 20.557) were of fundamental importance. The role of industrial promotion was also explicited in the Triannual Plan for National Reconstruction and Liberation of December 1973. This work wants to show the complexity of this law´s implementation and their application in the different economic contexts of the period 1973-1976. Also thios work remarks the replacement of this industrial promotion system after the militar putsch in March 1976.
    Keywords: industrial promotion subsidies expenditures Peronism Argentina industrialization
    JEL: L5 N6 O2 N5 H2 N4
    Date: 2007–07
  15. By: John Tang
    Abstract: Large conglomerates known as zaibatsu have long been credited with leading Japanese industrialization during the Meiji Period (1868-1912). I develop a new dataset collected from corporate genealogies and estimate the likelihood of first entry with discrete choice econometric methods. I find zaibatsu are indeed more likely to pioneer new industries relative to independent firms. This may be due to their ability to finance investments internally, autonomy from shareholder interference, and lower risk aversion from being diversified. Nevertheless, zaibatsu lag independent firms in introducing innovative technologies, possibly from their preference for scale and monopolistic industries, conservative ownership, and organizational complexity.
    Keywords: Meiji Period, zaibatsu, industrialization, late development, technology adoption
    Date: 2007–12
  16. By: Metin M. Cosgel (University of Connecticut)
    Abstract: There appear to be two seemingly contradictory images of economic change in the Islamic World and mixed evidence on whether Islamic societies have been open or conservative against modern ideas, technological advancements, and legal developments. Whereas a conservative attitude has been dominant in some societies and time periods, Muslims were at the forefront of scientific, technological, and legal developments in others. Rather than rely on ad hoc assumptions about the attitudes and characteristics of societies or the inherent qualities of new developments, this paper explains attitudes towards change by studying the political economy of the relationship between the rulers and the legal community. I extend recent theories of endogenous institutional change to develop a framework based on how rulers and legal community reacted to new developments immediately and how their strategic interaction unleashed an endogenous process toward change in the long run. Using this framework, I identify conditions under which new ideas, technologies, and legal developments have resulted in immediate change in Islamic societies. I also examine the process of change in the long run, whether and how immediate outcomes could be sustained over time as strategic interaction continued repeatedly.
    JEL: C7 D02 D7 H1 H3 K4 N4 O0
    Date: 2007–09
  17. By: Marongiu, Federico
    Abstract: This work analyzes the Argentinean financial system reform of 1977. Through this reform the militar government deepened the structural change that they have already started with the Coup D´etat in March 1976. The new scheme benefited strongly Capital in the functional income distribution, though going against the participation of Labor and workers The reform, implemented in 1977, was essential within the monetarist policies impulsed by the agropecuary oligarchy dominant sectors and the international capital lobbys (which were the economic power behind the militar government). The reform changed the banking and financial structure designed to impulse the sustitutive industrialization, ending with the bank nationalization implemented in the 1973-1976 Peronist government that allowed credit reallocation within productive activities. The reform also allowed the liberalization of interest rates and the possibility of public and private sector to increase their external debt. This was an essential factor to explain the high levels of debt that would mark the period 1977-1983 This work also anlyzes fundametal aspects such as the creation of the "Cuenta Regulación Monetaria" that caused a fast increase in the Central Bank´s quasifiscal deficit. Central de la República Argentina.
    Keywords: banking financial system nationalization liberalization neoliberalism Argentina debt peronism
    JEL: N1 G2 N2 N4 H6
    Date: 2007–12
  18. By: Metin M. Cosgel (University of Connecticut); Thomas J. Miceli (University of Connecticut)
    Abstract: Methods of tax collection employed by modern governments seem dull when compared to the rich variety observed in history. Whereas most governments today typically use salaried agents to collect taxes, various other types of contractual relationships have been observed in history, including sharing arrangements which divide the tax revenue between the government and collectors at fixed proportions, negotiated payment schemes based on the tax base, and sale of the revenue to a collector in exchange for a lump-sum payment determined at auction. We propose an economic theory of tax collection that can coherently explain the temporal and spatial variation in contractual forms. We begin by offering a simple classification of tax collection schemes observed in history. We then develop a general economic model of tax collection that specifies the cost and benefits of alternative schemes and identifies the conditions under which a government would choose one contractual form over another in maximizing the net revenue. Finally, we use the conclusions of the model to explain some of the well-known patterns of tax collection observed in history and how choices varied over time and space.
    JEL: D8 H2 J4 L3 M5 N4
    Date: 2007–12
  19. By: Fernando Gutiérrez Hidalgo (Department of Business Administration, Universidad Pablo de Olavide)
    Abstract: En Historia de la Contabilidad son relativamente abundantes los estudios sobre organizaciones estatales empresariales y nobiliarias. Sin embargo no se han encontrado estudios específicos sobre un organismo tan fundamental para la gestión del Estado como la Sala de Ultramar del Tribunal de Cuentas. Esto se ha podido deber a la opacidad de la información contable contenida en el Archivo General de Indias. La Sala de Ultramar del Tribunal de Cuentas era el órgano receptor y productor de testimonios escritos sobre las cuentas de las islas de Cuba, Puerto Rico y Filipinas. La función de esta dependencia hacendística era la fiscalización y vigilancia de los ingresos y gastos asentados en las cuentas del Estado, pronunciándose con autoridad inapelable por medio de un fallo de censura o finiquito de las mismas. Como consecuencia de esta función nació la Sección Tribunal de Cuentas del Archivo General de Indias. En esta Sección se producía una doble corriente documental. Por un lado, la documentación contable recibida de Ultramar, formada por cuentas y sus justificantes; y por otro, la emitida por el Tribunal con sus expedientes de censura. El objetivo de este trabajo es el dar a conocer y analizar la documentación contable contenida en dicha Sección según los organismos emisores, tipos más comunes de documentos contables y análisis cronológico de los mismos. Este análisis permitirá conocer la gestión y el valor de los recursos de aquellas posesiones ultramarinas pocos años antes de su independencia.
    Keywords: management accounting functions, interorganizational relationships
    Date: 2007–12
  20. By: Mauricio Avella Gómez
    Abstract: En los años veinte del siglo XIX, Colombia, entonces Gran Colombia, fue el mayor deudor internacional. En los siguientes cien años su acceso al mercado internacional de capitales fue mínimo, y su historia financiera estuvo marcada por sucesivas renegociaciones con sus antiguos acreedores. Tardaría un siglo para librarse del fardo de aquel endeudamiento asumido para financiar las campañas libertadoras. En una perspectiva de largo plazo, el manejo de la deuda pública, interna y externa, parece haber sido sostenible.
    Date: 2007–12–20
  21. By: Miguel Urrutia
    Abstract: El trabajo elabora series de precios y salarios urbanos, especialmente para Bogotá, para el periodo 1825-1899. Los datos muestran una disminución en los salarios reales urbanos en el siglo, lo cual sugiere que el ingreso per cápita urbano no aumentó durante este periodo. Los índices de salarios y precios muestran bastante estabilidad entre 1825 y los años setenta del siglo, y una aceleración de la inflación posteriormente, y particularmente en la última década
    Date: 2007–11–04
  22. By: Jorge Tovar
    Abstract: Este trabajo estudia el proceso de manumisión en Colombia haciendo uso de información individual de hasta 16.812 esclavos recolectada en diferentes archivos del país. El documento, en su primera parte, describe tanto el proceso histórico que llevó a la manumisión como la normatividad asociada al mismo. Posteriormente se establece que la gradualidad del proceso fracasó pues la mayor parte de los esclavos no fueron liberados hasta alrededor de 1851 y además, aquellos que fueron liberados en los primeros años del proceso fueron principalmente individuos entrados en edad, lo cual contradecía el espíritu de la ley implementada en 1821. Adicionalmente, se encuentra evidencia estadística de que la concentración en el número de esclavos por parte de los dueños tuvo efecto sobre el precio, aunque no de manera lineal. Finalmente, se demuestra que los hombres eran avaluados en más que las mujeres y que el precio en el que se avaluaban los esclavos tenía una tendencia decreciente con la edad.
    Date: 2007–11–19

This nep-his issue is ©2008 by Bernardo Batiz-Lazo. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.