nep-his New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2009‒10‒03
thirteen papers chosen by
Bernardo Batiz-Lazo
University of Leicester

  1. Private capital, public credit and the decline of American railways in the mid-20th century By Cohen, Jim
  2. Trade and Economic Growth: Historical Evidence By Schularick, M.; Solomou, S.
  3. The University Gender Gap in Australia: A Long-run Perspective By Alison L. Booth; Hiau Joo Kee
  4. Behemoth als Partner und Feind des Leviathan: zur politischen Ikonologie eines Monstrums By Bredekamp, Horst
  5. How labour ended up taxing itself: the political consequences of a century of self-transformation of the German welfare state By Kemmerling, Achim
  6. Persistence of Civil Wars By Acemoglu, Daron; Ticchi, Davide; Vindigni, Andrea
  7. “The power of simple theory and important facts” A Conversation with Bob Gregory By William Coleman
  8. Fertility Decline and the Heights of Children in Britain, 1886-1938 By Timothy J. Hatton; Richard M. Martin
  9. Regional value added in Italy (1891-2001): estimates, elaborations By Emanuele Felice
  10. Through the funhouse looking glass: Europe's ship of states By Leibfried, Stephan; Gaines, Susan M.; Frisina, Lorraine
  11. Reforms and Counter-Reforms in Bolivia By Luis Carlos Jemio; Fernando Candia; José Luis Evia
  12. Transforming education policy in New Zealand: a case study analysis By Dobbins, Michael
  13. Exchange rates during the crisis By Weber, Sebastian; Wyplosz, Charles

  1. By: Cohen, Jim
    Abstract: From the mid-19th Century until the Great Depression, banks, insurance companies and other large institutional investors supplied railways with external capital that supported their rise to near hegemony over transport in the U.S. This regime ended in the 1930’s, when widespread rail bankruptcies threatened broader credit markets. The federal government intervened via a powerful, new, public financial intermediary—the Reconstruction Finance Corporation—to socialize devalued rail debt, which largely removed private institutional investors from rail capital markets. At this defining moment, the Roosevelt Administration could have used its financial and political leverage to rationalize structural weaknesses in the rail industry. It did not. Thus by the time the Depression ended, railways were significantly weakened vis a vis their increasingly successful competitors in highway-based transport. Thus, the decline of American railways was caused more by financial factors than, as existing historiography suggests, by either excessive government regulation or failures of railway management.
    Keywords: Capital markets; railways; role of state
    JEL: L92 L52 N22 G21
    Date: 2009–08–15
  2. By: Schularick, M.; Solomou, S.
    Abstract: Is free trade good for growth? Some of the most disturbing evidence to the contrary comes from a period that is often described as the first era of globalization. Studies of the period 1870-1914 have emphasised that protectionist tariff policy was associated with higher rates of economic growth. In this paper we reassess the empirical evidence about the relationship between tariffs and growth in this era. Our key findings challenge the idea of the 19th century tariff-growth paradox. High tariffs did not stimulate economic growth. But there is equally little evidence that trade and other external factors were key determinants of economic growth. The paradox of this era of globalization is not that free trade was bad for growth; it is that the international environment seems to have mattered little to countries' growth trajectories.
    Keywords: economic growth; international trade; economic history; growth econometrics; globalization
    JEL: F10 F13 N10 O11
    Date: 2009–09–24
  3. By: Alison L. Booth; Hiau Joo Kee
    Abstract: According to the 1911 Census, the proportion female of those receiving university education was around 22%, growing to 29% in 1921. By 1952 it had dropped to under 20%, due to easy access into universities for returning war-veterans. From the early 1950s, the university-educated gender gap began to reduce in response to women’s changing expectations of labour-force participation, fertility and age at first marriage. By 1987, Australian women were more likely than men to be enrolled at university. However, these aggregate figures disguise considerable heterogeneity across fields of study.
    Keywords: higher education, gender, Australia
    JEL: I23 J1 N3
    Date: 2009–07
  4. By: Bredekamp, Horst
    Abstract: The two monstrosities Leviathan and Behemoth belong to the most powerful images of the Old Testamemt, which God let appear before the uprising Job to demonstrate his power. While the symbol of Leviathan has been researched as Hobbes archaic image of the modern state, this applies less to Behemoth. This article tries to follow the history of the cooperation and the conflict of the two monsters along general lines based on William Blakes' presentation of the two monstrosities of the book of Job. Both have always also had a political significance: as antipode to the egyptian Horus and as apotropaic personification of the antichrist and the devil of the middle ages and as an oppositional beast of the state peace and the civil war in Hobbes. In view of the 20th century, the essay shows how Behemoth and Leviathan both changed sides and while Leviathan became less frightening Behemoth obtained civil features. Eventually the return of the state anticipates the return of the severity of the Old Testament. - Zu den mächtigsten Bildern des Alten Testamentes gehören die beiden Monstra des Leviathan und des Behemoth, die Gott vor dem aufbegehrenden Hiob erscheinen läßt, um seine Macht zu demonstrieren. Während das Symbol des Leviathan als hobbesches Urbild des modernen Staates immer wieder erforscht worden ist, trifft dies auf den Behemoth weniger zu. Ausgehend von William Blakes Darstellungen der beiden Monstra versucht der Artikel in groben Zügen eine Geschichte des Mit- und Gegeneinanders der beiden Untiere des Buches Hiob zu verfolgen. Beide besaßen immer auch eine politische Bedeutung: als Antipoden zum ägyptischen Horus, als apotropäische Verkörperungen des Antichristen und des Teufels im Mittelalter und als oppositionelle Bestien des Staatsfriedens und des Bürgerkriegs bei Hobbes. Mit Blick auf das zwanzigste Jahrhundert verfolgt der Essay, wie Behemoth und Leviathan gleichsam die Fronten wechselten und wie mit der Schreckensminderung des Leviathan auch der Behemoth zivile Züge bekam, wie schließlich aber die Rückkehr des Staates eine Rückkehr zur Strenge des alttestamentlichen Textes erwarten läßt.
    Date: 2009
  5. By: Kemmerling, Achim
    Abstract: This paper investigates the long-term evolution of the tax system in Germany to explain why the political left has increasingly expanded taxation to its own clientele. The paper contrasts the second half of the 19th with the second half of the 20th century to show that some of the underlying parameters of tax systems have changed over time. In particular these are the existence of a mature welfare state and the significance of real wages as a tax base. Moreover, the paper selectively uses comparisons with the United Kingdom (UK) to show that where these conditions are absent the structure of the tax system is very different and taxes labour much less than in Germany. In this sense the British selftransformation of the welfare state has had very different political consequences than the German ; Das Diskussionspapier untersucht die langfristige Entwicklung des Steuersystems in Deutschland und erklärt, warum die politische Linke sich in zunehmendem Maße selbst besteuert. Dazu werden die zweiten Hälften des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts miteinander verglichen, um zu zeigen, dass die zugrunde liegenden Rahmenbedingungen des Steuersystems sich verändert haben. Zu letzteren zählen insbesondere der Wohlfahrtsstaat und die Reallöhne als Steuerbasis. Zudem werden Vergleiche mit der Entwicklung im Vereinigten Königreich gezogen. Dadurch wird deutlich, dass, wo diese Rahmenbedingungen sich anders entwickelt haben, sich auch das Steuersystem anders entwickelte, und dass vor allem Arbeitnehmer weniger besteuert werden. In diesem Sinne hatte die Selbsttransformation des britischen Wohlfahrtsstaates ganz andere politische Konsequenzen als die deutsche.
    Date: 2009
  6. By: Acemoglu, Daron (MIT and CIFAR); Ticchi, Davide (University of Urbino); Vindigni, Andrea (Princeton University)
    Abstract: A notable feature of post-World War II civil wars is their very long average duration. We provide a theory of the persistence of civil wars. The civilian government can successfully defeat rebellious factions only by creating a relatively strong army. In weakly-institutionalized polities this opens the way for excessive influence or coups by the military. Civilian governments whose rents are largely unaffected by civil wars then choose small and weak armies that are incapable of ending insurrections. Our framework also shows that when civilian governments need to take more decisive action against rebels, they may be forced to build over-sized armies, beyond the size necessary for fighting the insurrection, as a commitment to not reforming the military in the future.
    JEL: H20 N10 N40 P16
    Date: 2009–09
  7. By: William Coleman
    Abstract: Bob Gregory contrasts ‘the presuppositions of Royal Parade’ of 1950 Melbourne with the present outlook of himself and Australia at large. He outlines the evolution of his methodological position from the University of Melbourne student to the Canberra policy advisor, and defends that position from criticism. He recalls the genesis of the Gregory Thesis, and advances his account of the decline of trade unionism, the impact of the welfare state on household formation, and Aboriginal unemployment.
    Keywords: Australian economic history, history of thought, macroeconomics, microeconomics
    JEL: B10 B31 B41 N0 N97
    Date: 2009–07
  8. By: Timothy J. Hatton; Richard M. Martin
    Abstract: In this paper we argue that the fertility decline that began around 1880 had substantial positive effects on the health of children, as the quality-quantity trade-off would suggest. We use microdata from a unique survey from 1930s Britain to analyze the relationship between the standardized heights of children and the number of children in the family. Our results suggest that heights are influenced positively by family income per capita and negatively by the number of children or the degree of crowding in the household. The evidence suggests that family size affected the health of children through its influence on both nutrition and disease. Applying our results to long-term trends, we find that rising household income and falling family size contributed significantly to improving child health between 1886 and 1938. Between 1906 and 1938 these variables account for nearly half of the increase in heights, and much of this effect is due to falling family size. We conclude that the fertility decline is a neglected source of the rapid improvement in health in the first half of the twentieth century.
    Keywords: fertility decline, heights of children, health in Britain
    JEL: I32 J13 N33 N34
    Date: 2009–07
  9. By: Emanuele Felice
    Abstract: The aim of this paper is to present and discuss the pattern of regional inequality in Italy, from the end of the nineteenth century until our days. Value added estimates for the Italian regions, in benchmark years from 1891 until 1951, are linked to those from official figures available from 1971, in order to offer a long-term picture. It is worth anticipating that 1891-1951 estimates are not entirely satisfactory yet (sources and methodologies used for 1891-1951 estimates are explained in some detail in the final appendix). However, at the present stage of research they are comparable to those available for other countries; further refinements can hardly be produced in the short run, while it seems reasonable to think that they would not change significantly the overall pattern. In short, present estimates allow us to set the Italian case within the international context and to draw the basic lines of a long-term picture.
    Keywords: industrialization, regional inequality, regional income, economic growth
    JEL: N93 N94 R11
    Date: 2009–09
  10. By: Leibfried, Stephan; Gaines, Susan M.; Frisina, Lorraine
    Abstract: What is the nature of the European Union? Does it have the characteristics of a state, and if so, which? We employ a single imagea poster that won a Marshall Plan competition in 1950to examine the various legal perspectives of the EU that have emerged over the past six decades. Created as a symbol of European unity at the outset of European integration, the image was used half a century later on the book cover of Andrew Moravcsik's instant classic on intergovernmentalism. Here, we reinterpret the image yet againin four different ways. This attempt to sort out the legal perspectives of the EU was inspired by the Lisbon Treaty Case that is currently before the German Constitutional Court and will be decided in May 2009. ; Was ist die Natur der Europäischen Union (EU), welche Qualität, welche Staatsqualität hat sie eigentlich? Dem wird in diesem Beitrag anhand eines Bildes des Staatsschiffs EUROPA nachgegangen, das 1950 in einem Wettbewerb des Marshall Plans mit dem ersten Preis ausgezeichnet wurde und das bald fünf Jahrzehnte später, nun aber mit ganz anderer Bedeutung, auf dem Umschlag einer nun schon bald wieder klassischen Studie zur europäischen Integration von Andrew Moravcsik auftauchte. Die heute diskutierten unterschiedlichen juristischen Auffassungen zur Staatsqualität der EU, mit denen sich das Bundesverfassungsgericht im Mai 2009 in seinem Urteil zum Lissabon Vertrag befassen wird, werden dann im Rahmen dieser Bildinterpretation aufgegriffen und in ihrem historischen Ablauf skizziert.
    Date: 2009
  11. By: Luis Carlos Jemio (Institute for Advanced Development Studies); Fernando Candia (EFECE & Asociados); José Luis Evia (Bolivian Catholic University)
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the process of reforms and counter-reforms witnessed in Bolivia over the last two and a half decades, and the effects these processes have had on productivity. In addition, the paper discusses the changing nature of the policy- making processes underlying the reform and counter-reform processes, in terms of the actors who participated in the PMP, policy domains, and arenas where the PMP was shaped, and the currencies used by different actors in order to press for their demands. Moreover, the paper analyzes the factor underlying the changes which took place in the support given by the population to the reform process.
    Keywords: Reforms, Productivity, Political Economy, Bolivia
    JEL: E60
    Date: 2009–06
  12. By: Dobbins, Michael
    Abstract: This study provides a comprehensive analysis of the changing face of New Zealand education policy over the past 25 years. It highlights the phase of socio-economic trans-formation in the late 1980s and its far-reaching impact on the education system, before turning to the last two decades, in which New Zealand's education policy has been in-creasingly shaped by its system of education export, its willingness to engage in interna-tional comparison and its close cooperation with international organizations. The article also emphasizes the various domestic forces, which have shaped education policy-making. They include a unique willingness to experiment, pragmatism, and an underly-ing culture of balance and inclusion?, which account for the high degree of flexibility and adaptiveness of the country's secondary and tertiary education systems. ; Diese Studie gibt einen umfassenden Überblick des Wandels in der neuseeländischen Bildungspolitik, der bereits vor ca. 25 Jahren begann. Der Fokus wird zuerst auf die Phase der sozioökonomischen Transformation Ende der 1980er Jahre und deren Auswirklungen auf das Bildungssystem gelegt. Danach werden die Reformen der letzten zwei Jahrzehnte skizziert. Sowohl im tertiären als auch im sekundären Bildungsbereich wird Bildung in diesem Zeitraum zunehmend as liberalisiertes Servicegut interpretiert, welches zudem exportierbar ist. Gleichzeitig wurde die neuseeländische Hochschulpolitik durch die Ergebnisse internationaler Leistungsvergleiche und durch enge Zusammenarbeit mit internationalen Organisationen stark geprägt. Der Artikel zeigt außerdem wie verschiedene innenpolitische Faktoren bildungspolitische Reformen in Neuseeland beschleunigt haben. Dazu gehören eine starke Bereitschaft mit neuen Lösungsansätzen zu experimentieren, ein stark ausgeprägter Pragmatismus und eine für Neuseeland charakteristische Kultur des sozialen Gleichgewichtes und Ausgleiches. Diese Faktoren erklären den hohen Grad an Flexibilität sowie die Anpassungsfähigkeit des sekundären und tertiären Bildungssystems des Landes.
    Date: 2009
  13. By: Weber, Sebastian; Wyplosz, Charles
    Abstract: Nearly two years after the onset of the financial crises, many central banks have brought their policy interest rates down to, or close to zero. Various governments have seen their budget deficits soar. Both policies have affected exchange rates, partly through market expectations. With a majority of exchange rates officially floating, exchange rate movements do not necessarily reflect official decisions as was the case in the 1930s. Yet, also in the 2008 crisis, authorities have directly intervened in the foreign exchange market, sometimes in order to defend a falling currency but in other instances with the aim to limit appreciation pressure, akin of competitive devaluations. This paper documents the exchange rate interventions during the height of the 2008/09 financial crisis and identifies the countries which have particular high incentives to intervene in the foreign exchange market to competitively devalue their currency. While various countries had increased incentives to devalue, we find that direct exchange rate interventions have been rather limited and contagion of devaluation has been restricted to one regionally contained case. However, sharp market-driven exchange rate movements have reshaped competitive positions. It appears that these movements have so far not seriously disrupted global trade. After all, a world crisis is likely to require widespread exchange rate adjustments as different countries are affected in different ways and have different capacities to weather the shocks.
    Keywords: Currencies and Exchange Rates,Debt Markets,Emerging Markets,Economic Stabilization,Economic Theory&Research
    Date: 2009–09–01

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