nep-his New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2008‒02‒23
nine papers chosen by
Bernardo Batiz-Lazo
University of Leicester

  1. The Baltic Exchange: Mutual Influences between Economists in the German and Swedish Language Areas By Sandelin, Bo; Trautwein, Hans-Michael
  2. Economic distress and discourse : the rise of a corporatist rhetoric in Northern Spain after World War I By Juan Carlos Rojo Cagigal
  3. Cotton manufacturers as bankers: the textile trade and credit in spain (1840-1913) By Marc Prat Sabartes
  4. Real Exchange Rates over a Century: The Case of the Drachma/Sterling Rate, 1833-1939 By Dimitrios Sideris
  5. Italian children at work, 1881-1961 By G. Toniolo; G. Vecchi
  6. Inter-modal Network Externalities and Transport Development: Evidence from Roads, Canals, and Ports during the English Industrial Revolution By Dan Bogart
  7. From Roads to Rinks: Government Spending on Infrastructure in Canada, 1961 to 2005 By Roy, Francine
  8. How Banking Competition Changed over Time By Jacob A. Bikker; Laura Spierdijk

  1. By: Sandelin, Bo (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University); Trautwein, Hans-Michael (Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg)
    Abstract: In the 19th and 20th centuries economists of the German and Swedish language areas strongly influenced each other and made significant contributions to the development and critique of neoclassical economics. In our paper, we focus on the prominent contributions of Wicksell, Cassel, Hayek and Myrdal, but consider also others, such as Lutz, Neisser, Palander and Schneider. It might look far fetched to describe their interaction as a “Baltic exchange”, since (for example) Vienna is not part of that region. But history and geographical proximity made German the scientific language for Scandinavian academics in the 19th century, helping Swedish economists to spread their ideas widely on the Continent, before they made an impact in the English language area. Much of the interaction happened indeed close to the Baltic Sea. In the paper we discuss the German influence on Swedish economics that occurred mainly before the First World War, and the Swedish influence on German economics, mainly thereafter. We provide biographical, bibliographical and textual evidence for an exchange of ideas that has stimulated the development of economics far beyond the Baltic Sea.<p>
    Keywords: Germany; Sweden; influence; history of economic thought
    JEL: B10 B20
    Date: 2008–02–15
  2. By: Juan Carlos Rojo Cagigal
    Abstract: The paper explores the relationship between language and economy, between text and context, through a case study: the Basque region in northern Spain during World War I and the immediate postwar years. Using some tools of quantitative and qualitative analysis, I try to dissect the process of production and interpretation of the corporatist discourse, and then relate it to the evolution of the economy and the interests of the local economic elites. Contrary to the widespread Foucaldian theory, which focuses on the intrinsic structure of discourse, the results suggest that more attention should be paid to the context in explaining the process of discourse production.
    Keywords: Economic crisis, Discourse, Language, Communication, Economic elites, Political economy, Rhetoric, Corporatism, World War I, Spain
    JEL: N14 N44 N94
    Date: 2008–01
  3. By: Marc Prat Sabartes (Universitat de Barcelona)
    Abstract: Historians claim that in the nineteenth century Catalan cotton manufacturers were giving informal credit to their clients, and were therefore unable to transfer this credit to the banking system. Such circumstances would have had a detrimental effect on the profitability of the cotton firms. Based on an analysis of the archives of several firms, as well as judicial and notary sources, we can confirm this state of affairs, but present a more optimistic interpretation of the system. Manufacturers were, in fact, acting as their customers bankers because they were in the best position to perform this function. They built up a good information structure, managed the credit risk efficiently and earned money from this activity.
    Keywords: financial system, credit market, cotton industry, commercial network, information costs
    JEL: G21 L14 D83 L22 N23 G12
    Date: 2008
  4. By: Dimitrios Sideris (Bank of Greece and University of Ioannina)
    Abstract: Recent studies on real exchange rates advocate the use of long samples in order to reveal the low frequency properties of the processes. The present paper contributes to this strand of the literature by exploiting recently released time series for the drachma/sterling rate for the period 1833-1939. This is an interesting period as it covers different exchange rate regimes and the effects of important historical events. In the paper, the mean-reverting behaviour of the real drachma/sterling exchange rate is initially examined applying univariate unit root tests and then the validity of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) is tested using cointegration analysis. The results provide support for a weak PPP relationship, which turns out to be robust across different sub-periods characterised by different exchange rate regimes. Adjustment to PPP is reached at a relatively high speed and occurs via movements of the nominal exchange rate.
    Keywords: real exchange rates; cointegration; PPP
    JEL: F31 C32 N23 N24
    Date: 2008–01
  5. By: G. Toniolo; G. Vecchi
    Abstract: This paper quantifies the extent and the main characteristics of child work in Italy during the years 1881-1961. From population censuses, we created a new database of the economically active population aged 10-14 by gender, region, and economic sector. We find that child work incidence declined sharply over time, from 64.3 percent in 1881 to 3.6 percent in 1961. This pattern holds true both nationally and within regions. The new body of evidence we provide casts serious doubts on international comparisons which portray post-war Italy as a country with peculiarly high employment rates for children. Our findings also challenge the view that the initial phases of industrialization had a negative impact on the living standards of Italian children. We show that, in the case of Italy, industrialization coincided with a decline in the employment of children. Our analysis of the determinants of child work suggests that (i) changes in the allocation of total active population among productive sectors explain only a small amount of changes in the employment of children; (ii) changes in labor and compulsory-schooling legislation indicates that the impact of institutions on child labor was modest until the late 1930s. Overall, the increasing GDP per head was probably the main, but not the only, driving force behind declining child work incidence.
    Date: 2007–10
  6. By: Dan Bogart (Department of Economics, University of California-Irvine)
    Abstract: How does the development of one transport mode influence the development of another? This paper uses time-series data to test whether inter-model network externalities influenced the development of road, canal, and port infrastructure in England from 1760 to 1830. The main finding is that road development had a positive effect on canal development. The results suggest that the option value of investing in a canal in the future diminished when nearby road improvements were initiated because there was less uncertainty about future profits from canal tolls. They also suggest a reinterpretation of road transport in the Industrial Revolution and point to the general importance of inter-modal network externalities.
    Keywords: Inter-modal network externalities; British transport; Industrial Revolution
    JEL: R40 R50 N73
    Date: 2008–02
  7. By: Roy, Francine
    Abstract: The overall growth of government-owned infrastructure has been very similar across most regions over the past 44 years. With the exception of the Atlantic Provinces, the range of average annual capital growth from one region to the next has been very narrow, falling between 1.8% and 2.2% since 1961, according to a new study released in September 2007 in the Canadian Economic Observer. Since 2000, governments have increased their infrastructure capital more than at any time since the 1960s and 1970s. However, the growth has not been strong enough to prevent more and more signs of wear in our infrastructure (the data are net of depreciation and in constant 1997 dollars). This is due to cuts in the 1990s when governments were grappling with significant budgetary deficits, as well as many of the assets built in the post-war infrastructure boom reaching the end of their life span. This study analyses, from 1961 to 2005, government investment in infrastructure by different levels of government and type of asset by region.
    Keywords: Environment, Government, Culture and leisure, Families, households and housing, Transportation,
    Date: 2008–02–07
  8. By: Jacob A. Bikker; Laura Spierdijk
    Abstract: This paper is the first detailed and world-wide investigation of the developments in banking competition during the past fiffteen years. Using the Panzar-Rosse approach, we establish significant changes over time in the competitiveness of the banking industry. The changes in competition over time are small on average, but substantial for several countries and regions. Various Western economies faced a significant decline in banking competition during recent years. In particular, the competitive climate in the euro area was subject to a major break around 2001 - 2002, initiating a period of less competition. Also for the United States and Japan we establish a break during this period. The part of Eastern Europe that now belongs to the European Union experienced a significant but modest decrease in competition during the past ten years. Furthermore, the banking industry in emerging markets became more competitive during the last decade. We attribute the predominantly downward trend in competition to increased bank size and the shift from traditional intermediation to off-balance sheet activities.
    Keywords: competition, banking industry, Panzar-Rosse model, structural breaks
    JEL: C52 G21 L11 L13
    Date: 2008–02
  9. By: Silva Olarte, Renán José
    Date: 2008–02–13

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