nep-his New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2008‒12‒21
three papers chosen by
Bernardo Batiz-Lazo
University of Leicester

  1. The Technological Origins of the High School Movement By Kim, Se-Um
  2. The significance of the Cape trade route to economic activity in the Cape colony: a medium-term business cycle analysis By Willem H Boshoff; Johan Fourie
  3. S-shaped utility, subprime crash and the black swan By de Farias Neto, Joao Jose

  1. By: Kim, Se-Um
    Abstract: This paper argues that the emergence of knowledge hierarchies in the modern U.S. firms since the late 19th century, expedited by huge progress in communication technology, played a significant role in the expansion of mass secondary education called the high school movement in the U.S. in the early 20th century. To analyze the causal connections among these historical events, the paper presents a dynamic model in which the complementarity between individual skills is crucial to production. Middle-skilled individuals could help increase the payoff to the high-skilled by supervising low-skilled production workers as middle managers in firms, and so some of potential top managers with high skill actively supported the expansion of mass education to the secondary level some time after a sophisticated form of production organizations had started to emerge. This theoretical explanation is consistent with the existing historical evidence in the literature.
    Keywords: High School Movement; Communication Technology; Skill Complementarity; Knowledge Hierarchies; Middle Managers; Public Secondary Education
    JEL: O10 O40
    Date: 2008–10–20
  2. By: Willem H Boshoff (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch); Johan Fourie (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)
    Abstract: Trade is a critical component of economic growth in newly settled societies. This paper tests the impact of ship traffic on the Cape economy using a time series smoothing technique borrowed from the business cycle literature and employing an econometric procedure to test for long-run relationships. The results suggest a strong systematic co-movement between wheat production and ship traffic, with less evidence for wine production and stock herding activities. While ship traffic created demand for wheat exports, the size of the co-movement provides evidence that ship traffic also stimulated local demand through secondary and tertiary sector activities, supporting the hypothesis that ship traffic acted as a catalyst for growth in the Cape economy.
    Keywords: Colonial trade, Cape of Good Hope, Dutch East India, Band-pass filter, Medium-term fluctuations, Business cycle, South Africa, Ships, Harvest cycles, Colonial economy
    JEL: N17 E32 N77
    Date: 2008
  3. By: de Farias Neto, Joao Jose
    Abstract: I propose an S-shaped utility function of consumption which, combined with an heterogeneous agents and external habit setting, fits well the first order moments of the American financial and macroeconomic time series relevant for the equity premium puzzle in the second half of XX century. The average relative risk aversion of the agents remains in the 0-3 range. A "black swan"-kind phenomenon makes two of the 50 years considered (the two oil shocks) responsible for half the average of the stochastic discount factor, thus bringing the annual subjective discount factor to a very low level, around 0.5, which solves the risk-free puzzle. The shape of the relative risk aversion function of consumption suggests an explanation for the 2008 suprime crash akin to the breaking of waves on a beach in a lifecycle overlapping generations model.
    Keywords: financial puzzles; subprime crash; black swan; S-shaped utility
    JEL: G12 D91 E44
    Date: 2008–12–12

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