nep-his New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2008‒01‒19
sixteen papers chosen by
Bernardo Batiz-Lazo
University of Leicester

  1. International Money and Finance By Paul Hallwood; Ronald MacDonald
  2. Change and continuity: the development of joint stock banking in the early nineteenth century By Lucy Newton
  3. Money on the Road to Empire —Japan's Choice for Gold Monometallism By Schiltz, Michael
  4. Weetman Pearson in Mexico and the Emergence of a British Oil Major, 1901-1919 By Andrew Godley; Lisa Bud Frierman; Judith Wale
  5. Legal versus economic explanations of the rise in bankruptcies in 19th century France By Pierre-Cyrille Hautcoeur; Nadine Levratto
  6. Indigenous and colonial origins of comparative economic development : the case of colonial India and Africa By Bayly, C. A.
  7. Democratizing Luxury and the Contentious 'Invention of the Technological Chicken' in Britain By Andrew Godley
  8. Law, State Power, and Taxation in Islamic History By Metin Cosgel; Rasha Ahmed; Thomas Miceli
  9. Keynes and the Post Keynesians on Sustainable Development By Eric BERR (GREThA)
  10. Distortions to agricultural incentives in Australia since world war II By MacLaren, Donald; Lloyd, Peter; Anderson, Kym
  11. Control at a distance as self-control: the renewal of the myth of control through technology By Dambrin, Claire
  12. The Chicken, the Factory Farm and the Supermarket: the Emergence of the Modern Poultry Industry in Britain By Andrew Godley; Bridget Williams
  13. Regional and National Industrial Policies in Italy, 1950s-1993. Where Did the Subsidies Flow?" By Anna Spadavecchia
  14. Natural Resources and Violent Conflict: Resource Abundance, Dependence and the Onset of Civil Wars By Christa N. Brunnschweiler; Erwin Bulte
  15. Mr Drage, Mr Everyman, and the creation of a mass market for domestic furniture in interwar Britain By Peter Scott
  16. Embourgeoisement' before affluence? Suburbanisation and the social filtering of working-class communities in interwar Britain By Peter Scott

  1. By: Paul Hallwood (University of Connecticut); Ronald MacDonald (University of Glasgow)
    Abstract: We discuss the effectiveness of pegged exchange rate regimes from an historical perspective, drawing conclusions for their effectiveness today. Starting with the classical gold standard period, we point out that a succession of pegged regimes have ended in failure; except for the first, which was ended by the outbreak of World War I, all of the others we discuss have been ended by adverse economic developments for which the regimes themselves were partly responsible. Prior to World War II the main problem was a shortage of monetary gold that we argue is implicated as a cause of the Great Depression. After World War II, more particularly from the late-1960s, the main problem has been a surfeit of the main international reserve asset, the US dollar. This has led to generalized inflation in the 1970s and into the 1980s. Today, excessive dollar international base money creation is again a problem that could have serious consequences for world economic stability.
    Keywords: Bretton Woods, exchange rate expectations gold standard, new Bretton Woods, realignment expectations, pegged exchange rates, target zone, world economic instability
    JEL: F31 F33 N20
    Date: 2008–01
  2. By: Lucy Newton (Department of Management, University of Reading)
    Date: 2007
  3. By: Schiltz, Michael
    Abstract: Matsukata Masayoshi's decision to bring Japan upon the gold standard has often been presented as the self-evident result of his insight in some imperfections endemic to the silver standard and bimetallism. Turning to Marc Flandreau's refutation of the view that the growth toward an international gold standard system was preordained, this article inquires its consequences for discussions of Japan's late nineteenth century monetary situation. I argue that Matsukata's policies should not be discussed in terms of the assumed superiority of one standard over another, but should be studied as a political choice with respect to Japan's place in the world, both strategically (as an imperialist power) and economically (namely as economic partner of the gold standard countries).
    Keywords: Matsukata Masayoshi; monetary standards; Latin Monetary Union; Sino-Japanese war; imperialism
    JEL: N25 P16
    Date: 2007
  4. By: Andrew Godley (Department of Management, University of Reading); Lisa Bud Frierman (Visiting research fellow at the Centre for International Business History, University of Reading); Judith Wale (Visiting research fellow at the Centre for International Business History, University of Reading)
    Abstract: British overseas investment was one of the most powerful forces contributing to rapid global integration before World War 1. Approaching half of this total was in the form of foreign direct investment, as British entrepreneurs increasingly located their activities away from the mature domestic economy to faster growing, less-developed regions. Weetman Pearson was one of the most successful of all Britain’s overseasbased entrepreneurs of the period. Using original financial records, the paper shows how the Pearson group of companies became one of Britain’s most valuable industrial enterprises by 1919 having diversified from international contracting into the Mexican oil industry from 1901. The Pearson group highlights how British entrepreneurs were technically competent in managing large, complex infrastructure projects, able to navigate their way through various political systems, and adept at turning to whichever organisational form best suited their business interests; characteristics far removed from the outdated stereotype of the incompetent Late Victorian entrepreneur
    Date: 2007
  5. 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 wonder in particular whether changes in bankruptcy law, which are substantial during the period, suffice to explain the rise in the proportion of bankrupted firms. We first describe the main features and changes of French insolvency law and show that they contradict the evolution observed at the aggregate level. We then show that existing statistics, which include a regional dimension, allow for a better test of the impact of legal changes. We show that some legal changes had a significant impact, but not all. We also observe that regional variations in bankruptcies are huge and do not correspond to French economic geography, but may rather be understood as a diffusion process from the Paris Court towards the provinces. The major differences among regions also suggest that, even in a civil law country, the letter the law is much less important than local practices.
    Date: 2007
  6. By: Bayly, C. A.
    Abstract: This paper concerns the institutional origins of economic development, emphasizing the cases of nineteenth-century India and Africa. Colonial institutions-the law, western style property rights, newspapers and statistical analysis-played an important part in the emergence of Indian public and commercial life in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These institutions existed in the context of a state that was extractive and yet dependent on indigenous cooperation in many areas, especially in the case of the business class. In such conditions, Indian elites were critical in creating informal systems of peer-group education, enhancing aspiration through the use of historicist and religious themes and in creating a " benign sociology " of India as a prelude to development. Indigenous ideologies and practices were as significant in this slow enhancement of Indian capabilities as transplanted colonial ones. Contemporary development specialists would do well to consider the merits of indigenous forms of association and public debate, religious movements and entrepreneurial classes. Over much of Asia and Africa, the most successful enhancement of people ' s capabilities has come through the action of hybrid institutions of this type.
    Keywords: Cultural Policy,Economic Theory & Research,Corporate Law,,Anthropology
    Date: 2008–01–01
  7. By: Andrew Godley (Department of Management, University of Reading)
    Abstract: In 1950 poultry was a rare luxury in Britain, only one per cent of the total meat consumption. But over the next thirty years chicken consumption grew at the remarkable (compound) rate of 10 per cent per annum, while the overall consumption of meat remained stagnant from the 1950s to the 1980s. By then poultry had become the single most important source of meat, with a quarter of the total share of the market, replacing former favourites like beef, mutton and bacon in the British diet. This transformation was made possible by the emergence of intensive rearing in poultry farming. This was a dramatic change in production, dependent on technological innovations across several otherwise unrelated sectors: in pharmaceuticals and feedstuffs production, in refrigeration, slaughtering and packaging. The widespread distribution of cheap chicken led to its mass adoption throughout the country. But such a transformation in meat eating habits was not without its controversies. Contemporary concerns emerged from the late 1950s over the possible long term dangers to human health from the technological transformation inherent in intensive rearing regimes. The paper emphasises that it was the leading retailers, in particular J. Sainsbury, who acted as a key intermediary in this contested market, reconciling consumer uncertainty by attaching their own reputation to product quality, and then furthermore by intervening in the quality standards employed in its supply chain.
    Date: 2007–12
  8. By: Metin Cosgel (Economics Dept., The University of Connecticut.); Rasha Ahmed (Economics Dept., The University of Connecticut.); Thomas Miceli (Economics Dept., The University of Connecticut.)
    Abstract: This paper studies the unique nature, institutional roots, and economic consequences of the ruler’s political power in Islamic History. An influential interest group in Islamic societies has been the legal community, whose power could range from being able to regulate the rulers to being entirely under their control. The struggle was over the provision of legal goods and services, the legal community gradually gaining control of the law in history and the rulers seeking to appropriate political power by controlling the legal community. The economic consequence of power was the ability to dictate the choice of tax bases and rates.
    Keywords: state power, taxation, political economy, Islamic Law, legal community
    JEL: K3 H2
    Date: 2008–01–15
  9. By: Eric BERR (GREThA)
    Abstract: Since the beginning of the 1970s, the questions related to ecology come in the forefront and progressively led to the adoption of the concept of sustainable development, which now appears to be a new world-wide objective. We argue that numerous writings of Keynes contain the premises of such a sustainable development. We present his views relatively to the three pillars of sustainability: ecological, social and financial. Indeed, Keynes’ positions on uncertainty, money, the place of economics, arts, financing, philosophy, etc. are consistent with a strong sustainability. Finally, we try to give some insights for an indispensable 21st century post Keynesian sustainable development program.
    Keywords: Keynes, sustainable development, Post Keynesian
    JEL: B31 E12
    Date: 2008
  10. By: MacLaren, Donald; Lloyd, Peter; Anderson, Kym
    Abstract: Australia ' s lackluster economic growth performance in the first four decades following W orld War II was in part due to an anti-trade, anti-primary sector bias in government assistance policies. This paper provides new annual estimates of the extent of those biases since 1946 and their gradual phase-out during the past two decades. In doing so it reveals that the timing of the sector assistance cuts was such as sometimes to improve but sometimes to worsen the distortions to incentives faced by farmers. The changes increased the variation of assistance rates within agriculture during the 1950s and 1960s, reducing the welfare contribution of those programs in that period. Although the assistance pattern within agriculture appears not to have been strongly biased against exporters, its reform has coincided with a substantial increase in the export orientation of many farm industries. The overall pattern for Australia is contrasted with that revealed by comparable new estimates for other high-income countries.
    Keywords: Economic Theory & Research,Rural Development Knowledge & Information Systems,Emerging Markets,Banks & Banking Reform,Labor Policies
    Date: 2008–01–01
  11. By: Dambrin, Claire
    Abstract: This paper draws on socio-institutional research on accounting technology. It underlines the ability of one type of accounting technology (performance measurement technology) to be a base for control at a distance since this technology links together discourse and calculation.
    Keywords: accounting; technology; control at a distance
    JEL: M41
    Date: 2007–11–01
  12. By: Andrew Godley (Department of Management, University of Reading); Bridget Williams
    Date: 2007
  13. By: Anna Spadavecchia (Department of Management, University of Reading)
    Abstract: This paper compares the magnitude and distribution of regional subsidies to Southern industry to those of subsidies available in the country as a whole through the national industrial policy. The comparison highlights the fact that from the second half of the 1970s, industry located in the most prosperous region of Italy, the North-West, was the main beneficiary of subsidised credit. These findings refine our understanding of the regional policy for Southern Italy and the reasons for its limited achievements. Moreover, the redirection of subsidies away from the South cast doubts on the extent of the Italian government’s commitment to its programme of regional development.
    Keywords: Regional policy; Industrial policy; Regional pattern of government spending
    JEL: R58 H50 N94
    Date: 2007
  14. By: Christa N. Brunnschweiler (CER-ETH Center of Economic Research at ETH Zurich, Switzerland); Erwin Bulte (Development Economics Group, Wageningen University, and Department of Economics, Tilburg University, Netherlands)
    Abstract: In this paper we examine the claim that natural resources invite civil conflict, and challenge the main stylized facts in this literature. We find that the nature of causation between resource dependence and civil war is opposite to conventional wisdom. In particular, (i) civil war creates dependence on primary sector exports, but the reverse is not true, and (ii) resource abundance is associated with a reduced probability of the onset of war. These results are robust to a range of specifications and, considering the conflict channel, we conclude there is no reason to regard resources as a general curse to development.
    Keywords: Civil war, resource abundance, resource dependence, greed versus grievance, resource curse
    JEL: Q34 O11 N40 N50
    Date: 2008
  15. By: Peter Scott (Centre for International Business History, University of Reading)
    Abstract: This paper examines strategies used by durable goods retailers to create a mass market in interwar Britain, via a case-study of domestic furniture. Interwar demand for new furniture witnessed particularly rapid growth - mainly owing to the extension of the market to lower-income groups. A number of innovative national retailers eveloped liberal HP facilities to bring furniture within the economic reach of these groups, while sophisticated national advertising campaigns were used to both legitimise buying furniture on HP and project furnishing by this means as key to achieving the type of aspriational lifestyles being promulgated in the popular media.
    Date: 2007
  16. By: Peter Scott (Centre for International Business History, University of Reading)
    Date: 2007

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