nep-his New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2009‒07‒28
fifteen papers chosen by
Bernardo Batiz-Lazo
University of Leicester

  1. Latin America's Decline: A Long Historical View By Sebastian Edwards
  2. History without Evidence: Latin American Inequality since 1491 By Jeffrey G. Williamson
  3. Teaching "Merchants' accompts" in Britain during the early modern period By Edwards, John Richard
  4. Regulators and Innovators Play Tag: The Italian Historical Experience By Alfredo Gigliobianco; Claire Giordano; Gianni Toniolo
  5. A Commercial Education for 'the midling Sort of People' in Mercantilist Britain By Edwards, John Richard
  6. Los bancos de desarrollo en América Latina: la experiencia de Nacional Financiera durante la industrialización vía sustitución de importaciones mexicana (1940-1970) By Pablo J. López
  7. Writing master and accountant - an exercise in professional identification By Edwards, John Richard
  8. Coinage and Monetary Policies in Burgundian Flanders during the late-medieval 'Bullion Famines',. 1384 - 1482 By John H. Munro
  9. On Money as an Institution By Nikolay Nenovsky
  10. Was There Ever a Ruling Class? A Proposal for the study of 800 Years of Social Mobility By Gregory Clark
  11. The Relevance of Ragnar Nurkse and Classical Development Economics By Rainer Kattel; Jan A. Kregel; Erik S. Reinert
  12. The Black Man's Burden - The cost of colonization of French West Africa for French taxpayers By Elise Huillery
  14. Crash of ’87 - Was it Expected? Aggregate Market Fears and Long Range Dependence By Ramazan Gencay; Nikola Gradojevic
  15. Demographic Change and the Murder Rate: The Case of the United States, 1934 to 2006 By Nunley, John; Seals, Alan; Zietz, Joachim

  1. By: Sebastian Edwards
    Abstract: In this paper I analyze Latin America's very long term economic performance (since the early 18th century), and I compare it with that of the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the countries of Western Europe. I begin with an analysis of long term data and an attempt at determining when the region's decline really began. The next section deals with the relation between the strength of institutions since colonial rule and the region’s economic performance. Next I move to an analysis of Latin America's long history with instability, crises and debt defaults. I show that currency collapses have been a staple of the region's economic history. In the Section that follows I analyze the long term evolution of social conditions, including poverty and income inequality. This analysis shows that a high degree of income disparity and poverty have a long history in the region. The paper ends with an analysis of the way in which Latin American intellectuals and scholars have seen the increasing economic and income gap with the United States and Canada.
    JEL: F30 F32 N26 O40 O54
    Date: 2009–07
  2. By: Jeffrey G. Williamson (Harvard University and University of Wisconsin)
    Abstract: Most analysts of the modern Latin American economy hold to a pessimistic belief in historical persistence -- they believe that Latin America has always had very high levels of inequality, suggesting it will be hard for modern social policy to create a more egalitarian society. This paper argues that this conclusion is not supported by what little evidence we have. The persistence view is based on an historical literature which has made little or no effort to be comparative. Modern analysts see a more unequal Latin America compared with Asia and the rich post-industrial nations and then assume that this must always have been true. Indeed, some have argued that high inequality appeared very early in the post-conquest Americas, and that this fact supported rent-seeking and anti-growth institutions which help explain the disappointing growth performance we observe there even today. This paper argues to the contrary. Compared with the rest of the world, inequality was not high in pre-conquest 1491, nor was it high in the post-conquest decades following 1492. Indeed, it was not even high in the mid-19th century just prior Latin America’s belle époque. It only became high thereafter. Historical persistence in Latin American inequality is a myth.
    Keywords: Inequality; Development; Latin America
    JEL: N16 N36 O15 D3
    Date: 2009–07–15
  3. By: Edwards, John Richard (Cardiff Business School)
    Abstract: British-based studies of the education of aspiring accountants have confined attention to developments following the formation of professional bodies. This paper examines educational provision during the early modern period which broadly coincides with the rapid commercial expansion that occurred in mercantilist Britain 1550-1800. We reveal institutional and pedagogic innovations designed to meet the training requirements of aspirant accountants and bookkeepers. We also show how the gendered male orientation of teaching institutions and instructional texts in accounting did not entirely exclude young women from acquiring desired knowledge of the accounting craft.
    Keywords: accounting history; accounting literature; education; women
    Date: 2009–03
  4. By: Alfredo Gigliobianco (Bank of Italy, Structural Studies Department); Claire Giordano (Bank of Italy, Structural Studies Department); Gianni Toniolo (Duke University)
    Abstract: Between the 1880s and the 1930s, three "regulatory cycles" can be identified in Italy. In the underlying model, each financial crisis gives rise to a regulatory change, which is circumvented in due time by financial innovation, that can then contribute to the outbreak of a new financial crisis. In Italy, overtrading of the banks of issue in the 1880s contributed to the 1888-1894 financial crisis, which yielded regulation concerning only these banks and restricting their activity. The German-type universal banks, created at the turn of the century and unconstrained in their undertakings, were at the core of the 1907 and the 1921-1923 crises. These led to a banking law in 1926 which, however, was born obsolete, in that it was not aimed at regulating universal banking as it had developed until then, but it contained general provisions regarding the whole range of deposit-taking institutions. Finally, the evolutionary adaptation of the universal banks into holding companies, not taken into account by the preceding law, contributed to the 1931-1934 banking crisis, followed by the 1936 bank legislation.
    JEL: G28 N20 N40
    Date: 2009–04
  5. By: Edwards, John Richard (Cardiff Business School)
    Abstract: The early modern period, which covers the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, saw England transformed from a relatively insignificant European nation to one of the world's leading economies. During this era a transformation in educational provision was designed to meet the needs of a changing occupational landscape. The continued focus of grammar schools and the universities on the supply of clerics and scholars ignored the educational requirements of those involved in the administration and management of entities located within both the commercial and non-profit making sectors. Against a background of increased literacy, this paper reveals that the private schools and academies of the early modern period responded to the information requirements of larger scale entities by developing a unified commercial education based on the intertwining of writing, arithmetic and double entry bookkeeping.
    Keywords: accounting history; business education; writing master
    Date: 2009–03
  6. By: Pablo J. López (Universidad de Buenos Aires)
    Abstract: The post-war was a period of industrialization for most Latin American countries, with an active intervention of the State. In this context, development banks arose at the national level, which main objective was to allocate resources to productive projects or infrastructure, especially in those activities that were not feasible for the private sector. In Mexico, although Nacional Financiera SA was founded in the mid-thirties, it was defined as a development bank in the early forties, with the beginning of the import substitution industrialization process. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to revise the history of the institution and its relation with the industrial sector between 1940 and 1970. Taking into account the logic of the industrialization process and the Mexican economic policies, this work is a contribution to the study of the role played by the financial structure in the industrialization process in Mexico. In addiction, this work fits in the discussion about the problems of the import substitution industrialization in Latin America, and in particular the debates on the Mexican industrialization.
    Keywords: Development banks, Industrialization, Imports substitution, Mexico, Financial Structure, Post-war, Economic policies, Foreign capital, financial institutions
    JEL: N26
    Date: 2009–07
  7. By: Edwards, John Richard (Cardiff Business School)
    Abstract: There has been significant focus in accounting historiography on the use of occupational labels for the purpose of group identification and profe ssional trajectory in nineteenth and twentieth century Britain. The writing master was active from medieval times as the authority on calligraphic representation, while the writing master and accountant emerged as a specialist pedagogue providing the expert business knowledge required in the counting houses of business concerns that flourished during the rapid commercial expansion which took place in mercantilist Britain. Writing masters and accountants pursued occupational trajectory by developing a desirable social identity based on a range of strategies that included aligning the services they provided with national interest and projecting an image of the gentlemanly professional. Their demise as an occupational group may be attributed to factors that include internecine conflict, the increasing homogeneity of the written word and the likely pursuit by accountants of more remunerative engagements.
    Keywords: Accounting history; identity; writing master
    Date: 2009–03
  8. By: John H. Munro
    Abstract: This paper seeks to answer two questions: were the coinage debasements in Burgundian Flanders (1384-1482) undertaken principally as monetary or fiscal policies; and were they beneficial or harmful? In a recent monograph, Sargent and Velde (Big Problem of Small Change: 2002) contend that monetary objectives governed almost all medieval, early-modern debasements, especially to remedy the chronic shortages of petty coins. Despite overwhelming evidence that Burgundian Flanders, along with most of north-west Europe in the later 14th and 15th centuries, experienced severe monetary scarcities and liquidity crises, especially in the periods ca. 1390 - ca. 1415 and ca. 1440 - ca. 1470, both periods of severe deflations, eras commonly known as ‘bullion famines’, there is no compelling evidence that the Burgundian rulers debased their coinages on the basis of any such monetary policies. My thesis is that the Burgundian rulers of Flanders, in competition with neighboring princes, undertook their debasements primarily as aggressive fiscal policies, specifically to finance warfare. Their goal was to increase their seigniorage revenues, the tax imposed on bullion brought to their mints, by two means: by increasing the tax rate itself, and by enticing an increased influx of bullion into their mints, both by the debasement techniques themselves and by auxiliary bullionist policies. Those policies were successful so long as three conditions were met: (1) that merchants supplying bullion received more coins of the same face value and thus with a greater aggregate money-of-account value than before (or than from other mints); (2) that the public accepted such debased coins at the same face value, by tale; and (3) that the merchants spent their increased supply of coins quickly, before any ensuing inflation eroded those gains. This study further demonstrates that the inflationary consequences of debasements were always less than those predicted by mathematical formulae – possibly because those debasements failed to counteract the prevailing forces of monetary contraction and deflation. Because so many princes pursued similar fiscal policies, many others engaged in debasement for purely defensive reasons: to protect their mints from foreign competition and to protect their domestic money supplies from influxes of debased and also counterfeit imitations: i.e., to counteract Gresham’s Law. If many debasements were retaliatory measures against a neighbour’s bullionist policies, those policies in general, and not just debasements, were also products of late-medieval warfare, which was also the primary culprit responsible for periodic monetary contractions: by impeding coinage circulations and bullion flows, and by provoking increased hoarding. The answer to the final question is that debasements were usually far more harmful than beneficial. Note that this is an extensively revised and shortened version of an earlier working paper (no. 355), correcting some errors in that paper (concerning Spanish coinage): with the same tables, but with a new set of graphs,
    Keywords: debasements; gold; silver; bullionist policies; mints; seigniorage; inflation; deflation; ‘bullion famines'
    JEL: E E41 E42 E51 E52 E62 F33 H11 H27 N13 N23 N43
    Date: 2009–06–26
  9. By: Nikolay Nenovsky
    Abstract: In this paper I am going to explore some of the major theoretical concepts and ideas in Luca Fantacci’s work devoted to the history of money. As a historical check on Fantacci’s theory I will present various moments in Russian monetary history interpreted in the light of the ideas of the La moneta: storia di un’instituzione mancata. I will compare Fantacci’s theory of division between the unit of account and the medium of exchange with those of Walther Eucken and the Austrian School as well as of some other contemporary authors. A new institutional reading of the evolution of money “money as an institutional compound” is proposed.
    Keywords: institution, money, monetary history
    JEL: B52 E42 N10
    Date: 2009–07
  10. By: Gregory Clark (Department of Economics, University of California, Davies)
    Abstract: This reports on a preliminary investigation of surnames distributions as a measure long run social mobility. In England this suggests two surprising claims. First, England, all the way from the heart of the Middle Ages in 1250 to at least 1860, was a society without persistent social classes. It was a world of social mobility, with no permanent over-class and under-class, a world of complete equal opportunity. There was, however, a gain from being in the upper class in any generation in the form of leaving more copies of your DNA permanently in later populations. Second, signs of persistent social classes have only emerged in societies like England and the United States in recent years. Instead of moving from a world of immobility and class rigidity to a world of equal opportunity, we have moved in the opposite direction.
    Keywords: Social Mobility, Economic Mobility, History of Social Class, History of Economic Opportunity
    JEL: D31 J62 N30
    Date: 2009–07
  11. By: Rainer Kattel; Jan A. Kregel; Erik S. Reinert
    Abstract: In this essay we aim to show, first, how the classical development economics, that of Ragnar Nurkse's (1907-1957) generation, epitomized the best development practices of the past 500 years and crafted them into what Krugman rightly calls high development theory. It is not a coincidence that the post-World-War-II era, when Nurkse and others ruled the development mainstream, is one of exceptionally good performance for many poor countries. Second, we argue that the alleged death of the classical development economics and subsequent rise of the Washington Consensus has to do not so much with increasing modeling in economics, a way of research purposely discarded by many classical development thinkers, but much more with misunderstanding the reasons for East Asia's success and Latin America's demise; we show that the root cause of this misunderstanding - that goes in fact back to 'misreading' key passages in Adam Smith - is the role of technology, or of increasing returns activities, and of finance, in development. Third, we aim to indicate key areas of further research that the current development mainstream should pursue in order to re-learn how to create middle-income economies and middle-class jobs.
    Date: 2009–03
  12. By: Elise Huillery
    Abstract: Was colonization very costly for the metropole? This view has been widely accepted among French historians even though little empirical evidence has been provided. Using original data from the colonial budgets of French West Africa (AOF) this paper provides new insights into the actual colonial public funding in this part of the French empire. Comparing the financial transfers from the metropole to AOF to total metropolitan expenses reveals that the cost of colonization of the AOF for French taxpayers was extremely low: French subsidies to the AOF represented on average 0.007 percent of total metropolitan expenses. From the AOF side financial transfers from the metropole were not that beneficiary since French subsidies represented on average 0.4 percent of total local revenue. Including the public loans and cash advances from the metropole does not change this general pattern. West Africans therefore funded most colonial public investments which reveal to be very small. One reason for the scarcity of public investments is the cost of French civil servants serving in the colonies which turned out to be a considerable burden for Africans: French government officials alone represented 20 percent of total local public expenses.
    Date: 2009
  13. By: Alain BERAUD (THEMA, Université de Cergy Pontoise)
    Abstract: Cet article étudie la crise qui, en 1825, tacha l’économie anglaise et les travaux que John Stuart Mill, Thomas Tooke et John Ramsay McCulloch consacrèrent à son analyse. Alors que McCulloch s’appuyait, pour comprendre, la crise sur la tradition ricardienne, Mill et Tooke s’en écartent et sans doute celui-là plus que celui-ci. McCulloch et Tooke soutiennent que l’organisation du système bancaire anglais a joué, sinon dans l’origine du moins dans le développement de la crise, un rôle remarquable. Mill, au contraire, pense que la crise est l’effet de spéculations hasardeuses et qu’elle se serait tout aussi bien développée dans un système où la monnaie aurait consisté en espèces. Il avance des idées qui seront reprises et développées par la Banking School.
    Keywords: Mill, Tooke, McCulloch, crise, spéculation, overtrading, Banking School.
    JEL: B12 B31 E42 N13
    Date: 2009
  14. By: Ramazan Gencay (Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University); Nikola Gradojevic (Faculty of Business Administration, Lakehead University)
    Abstract: We develop a dynamic framework to identify aggregate market fears ahead of a major market crash through the skewness premium of European options. Our methodology is based on measuring the distribution of a skewness premium through a q-Gaussian density and a maximum entropy principle. Our findings indicate that the October 19th, 1987 crash was predictable from the study of the skewness premium of deepest out-of-the-money options about two months prior to the crash
    Keywords: Non-additive Entropy, Shannon Entropy, Tsallis Entropy, q-Gaussian Distribution, Skewness Premium
    JEL: G1 C40
    Date: 2009–01
  15. By: Nunley, John; Seals, Alan; Zietz, Joachim
    Abstract: Fluctuations in aggregate crime rates contrary to recent shifts in the age distribution of the U.S. population have cast doubt on the predictive power of the age-crime hypothesis. Examining a longer time horizon with rigorous econometric techniques, we show that the percentage of the young population is a robust predictor of the murder rate. Increases in the immigration rate and prevalence of crack cocaine also contribute to changes in the murder rate. However, these variables capture a miniscule portion of its trend, while changes in the young population explain a substantial portion of the trend since the 1930s.
    Keywords: murder rate; demographic change; age composition; crime
    JEL: J10 J00 J11
    Date: 2009–06

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