nep-his New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2008‒03‒01
eight papers chosen by
Bernardo Batiz-Lazo
University of Leicester

  1. War and Endogenous Democracy By Davide Ticchi; Andrea Vindigni
  2. Between Agnelli and Mussolini: Ford’s unsuccessful attempt to penetrate the Italian automobile market in the interwar period By Pier Angelo Toninelli
  3. Jacob Viner’s Reminiscences from the New Deal (February 11, 1953) By Luca Fiorito; Sebastiano Nerozzi
  4. Are Banks Procyclical? Evidence from the Italian Case (1890-1973) By Carlo Brambilla; Giandomenico Piluso
  5. Do Technology Shocks Lead to Productivity Slowdowns? Evidence from Patent Data By Lone E. Christiansen
  6. The Institutions of archaic post-modernity and their organizational and managerial consequences: the case of Portugal By Cunha, Miguel Pina e; Clegg, Stewart R.; Rego, Arménio
  7. The Persistent Differentiation - the education commission’s reform work 1724-1778 By Kaiserfeld, Thomas
  8. El sermón como forma de comunicación y como estrategia de movilización. Nuevo Reino de Granada a principios del siglo XVII. By Renán Silva.

  1. By: Davide Ticchi (Department of Economics, University of Urbino (Italy)); Andrea Vindigni (Department of Politics, Princeton University & IZA)
    Abstract: Many episodes of extension of franchise in the 19th and especially in the 20th century occurred during or in the aftermath of major wars. Motivated by this fact, we offer a theory of political transitions which focuses on the impact of international conflicts on domestic political institutions. We argue that mass-armies, which appeared in Europe after the French Revolution, are an effective military organization only if the conscripted citizens are willing to put effort in fighting wars, which in turn depends on the economic incentives that are provided to them. The need to provide such incentives, implies that an oligarchy adopting a mass-army may voluntarily decide to promise some amount of income redistribution to its citizens, conditionally on satisfactory performance as soldiers. When the elite cannot credibly commit to provide an incentive-compatible redistribution, they may cope with the moral hazard problem of the citizens-soldiers only by relinquishing political power to them through the extension of franchise. This is because democracy always implements a highly redistributive fiscal policy, which makes fighting hard incentive-compatible for the citizens-soldiers. We show that a transition to democracy is more likely to occur when the external threat faced by an incumbent oligarchy is in some sense intermediate. A very high external threat allows the elite to make credible commitments of future income redistribution in favor of the citizens, while a limited external threat makes optimal for the elite not making any (economic or political) concession to the masses. Some historical evidence consistent with our theory is also provided.
    Keywords: Autocracy, Democracy, Wars, Redistribution.
    JEL: D72 D74 H56 N40 P16
    Date: 2007–12
  2. By: Pier Angelo Toninelli
    Abstract: This article discusses one chapter of the interwar history of the Ford Motor Company in Europe rather neglected by historiography, namely its unsuccessful attempt to erect a solid base of operations in Italy. After WW1 the breaking into the Italian automobile market had been part of the Ford Motor Company’s strategy of internationalization. It seemed to go well beyond the exploitation of an additional European market: possibly, its most interesting and promising aspect was the utilization of an Italian branch as a bridgehead into the Balkans, the East Mediterranean region, the Middle East and North-East Africa. At the beginning this strategy turned out successful. But when, in the late 1920s, the American Company tried to improve its position in the country – either through the establishment of an assembly plant or a joint venture with an Italian firm – it turned out impossible. Conventional wisdom about such a failure has underlined the persevering hostility of Fiat, already the main Italian car producer, backed by Mussolini’s nationalistic economic policy. This was certainly the main cause. Yet, also on the Ford side some wavering and hesitation occurred. Therefore a few chances were missed: the most glamorous being an agreement, insofar totally neglected by historiography, with Fiat itself.
    Keywords: post WW1 Italy, automobile industry, entry barriers, multinational activity, mergers
    JEL: N84 F23 N44 L62
    Date: 2008–02
  3. By: Luca Fiorito; Sebastiano Nerozzi
    Abstract: This paper presents and reproduces an unpublished oral history interview given by Jacob Viner in 1953. The interview released by Viner for the Columbia Oral History Project gives us a valuable opportunity to throw light on his advisory activity during the New Deal Era. In our introduction we attempt to make a critical appraisal of Viner's reminiscences and to state the contribution they can provide to our general knowledge of the period. In addition, we also attempt to find out some biographical and interpretative elements useful to understand Viner’s own vision and his contribution to important economic policy processes during the New Deal.
    JEL: A11 B31 H5 N01 N41
    Date: 2008–01
  4. By: Carlo Brambilla; Giandomenico Piluso
    Abstract: Recently a number of studies on banking systems’ procyclicality have been drawn. Such an issue, often developed as a consequence of Basel 2 agreements, is related with credit crunch phenomena and financial stability. Typically, a temporary shock may produce a long term effect following or amplifying fluctuations through finance. For this reason procyclicality may significantly affect capital accumulation and long-term growth. Therefore, verifying and measuring whether a banking system is, or is not, procyclical is relevant in order to understand which effects regulatory schemes and financial architectures can produce on capital formation processes. While studies generally have a short period perspective, this paper analyses business fluctuations and banking cycles in the long run. The Italian financial history could provide useful insights because its evolutionary path experimented two different banking patterns. Universal banking prevailed until the Great Depression, whilst specialised financial institutions emerged afterwards. Economic historians have considered Italian universal banks, up to the early 1930s, a convincing example of procyclical intermediaries. Such hypothesis relies on qualitative research based on case studies, but it has not been verified in quantitative terms, yet. Thus, this paper aims to verify procyclicality of the Italian banking system in the long run applying VAR analysis on a wide set of economic and financial indicators. What emerges is that a certain cycle-smoothing effect is observed during the whole period, in spite of the major institutional shock occurred in the early 1930s (i.e. the new bank law), whilst relevant changes in banks’ asset structures suggest that central bank and government intervention had important impact on banks behaviour and policies
    Keywords: credit cycles, business cycles, procyclicality, credit crunch, financial stability, universal banking
    JEL: E32 G21 N13 N14 N23 N24
    Date: 2007–12
  5. By: Lone E. Christiansen
    Abstract: This paper provides empirical evidence on the response of labor productivity to the arrival of new inventions. The benchmark measure of technological progress is given by data on patent applications in the U.S. over the period 1889-2002. The analysis shows that labor productivity may temporarily fall below trend after technological progress. However, the effects on productivity differ between the pre- and post-World War II periods. The pre-war period shows evidence of a productivity slowdown as a result of the arrival of new technology, whereas the post-World War II period does not. Positive effects of technology shocks tend to show up sooner in the productivity data in the later period.
    Keywords: Productivity , Labor , Investment ,
    Date: 2008–01–31
  6. By: Cunha, Miguel Pina e; Clegg, Stewart R.; Rego, Arménio
    Abstract: The long march of modernization of the Western societies tends to be presented as following a regular sequence: societies and institutions were pre-modern, and then they were modernized, eventually becoming post-modern. Such teleology may provide an incomplete or distorted narrative of societal evolution in many parts of the world, even in the ‘post-modern heartland’ of Western Europe, with Portugal being a case in point. The concept of archaic post-modernity has been developed by a philosopher, José Gil, to show how Portuguese institutions and organizations combine elements of premodernity and post-modernity. The notion of an archaic post-modernity is advanced in order to provide an alternative account of the modernization process, which enriches discussion of the varieties of capitalism. Differences in historical experiences create singularities that may be considered in the analysis of culture, management and organization.
    Date: 2008
  7. By: Kaiserfeld, Thomas (CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies, Royal Institute of Technology)
    Abstract: The work of the Education Commission from 1745 is one of the more thoroughly studied investigations in Swedish administrative history in general, and the most studied in the Swedish history of education in particular. The aim here is therefore not to provide new empirical results. My hope instead is to be able to provide a different and broader interpretation of its activities than has thus far characterised historical writings on the work of the Commission. As our educational institutions – possibly with the exception of the family in all its various forms – are the most important agents for the vertical or inter-generational transfer of information in Western culture, reforms within this area are extremely valuable for understanding processes of change in our society. Changes to curricula are even more important than the appropriation of new knowledge through the transfer or production of knowledge, for example through research. Changes in education namely create dynamics in one of our most conservative cultural institutions, and are therefore decisive for the development of society in the longer term. For this reason, the battle for the content of education is important, not only for those who conduct it and those affected by it, but also for everyone who has an interest in historical change in general.
    Keywords: education; institutions; institutional change
    JEL: B15
    Date: 2008–02–26
  8. By: Renán Silva.
    Date: 2008–02–21

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