nep-his New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2010‒07‒24
sixteen papers chosen by
Bernardo Batiz-Lazo
University of Leicester

  1. Big Industry Before Independence: 1860-1950 By Anupriya Singhal; Aoneha Tagore
  2. Disaster and Recovery: The Public and Private Sectors in the Aftermath of the 1906 Earthquake in San Francisco By Douglas Coate
  3. Monetization and Growth in Colonial New England, 1703-1749 By Peter L. Rousseau; Caleb Stroup
  4. Economic Policy and Output Volatility in Spain, 1950-1998: Was Fiscal Policy Destabilizing? By Battilossi, Stefano; Escario, Regina; Foreman-Peck, James
  5. The Sustainability of `Sustainable´ Energy Use: Historical Evidence on the Relationship between Economic Growth and Renewable Energy By Roger Fouquet
  6. Employer Preferences and Social Policy: Business and the Development of Job Security Regulations in Germany since World War I By Emmenegger, Patrick; Marx, Paul
  7. Improving human development: a long-run view By Leandro Prados de la Escosura
  8. U.S. foreign-exchange-market intervention during the Volcker-Greenspan era By Michael D. Bordo; Owen F. Humpage; Anna J. Schwartz
  9. The Significance of Identifying Industrial Clusters; The Case of Scotland By Gerald Munyoro; John H. Ll Dewhurst
  10. The cult of martyrs By Ferrero, Mario
  11. Les auteurs comptables : une élite à géométrie variable. By Marc Nikitin
  12. Trade and Geography in the Economic Origins of Islam: Theory and Evidence By Stelios Michalopoulos; Alireza Naghavi; Giovanni Prarolo
  13. De la diversité des pratiques comptables à l'objet de la comptabilité By Karine Fabre
  14. On the Evolution of the Firm Size Distribution in an African Economy By Justin Sandefur
  15. Les contrôleurs de gestion, « médiateurs » de la financiarisation. By Anne Pezet; Jérémy Morales
  16. Léon Walras, précurseur du libertarisme de gauche ? By Jean-Sébastien Gharbi; Pelin Sekerler Richiardi

  1. By: Anupriya Singhal; Aoneha Tagore
    Abstract: The world over, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, private sector units were of a laissez-faire variety i.e., the private sector was completely free of state interference. Private enterprises were units owned and managed by individual proprietors and partnerships. Even in India, private business houses in spite of many obstructions placed by the British government flourished and managed to earn huge profits. This was also the era when government investment in industry was zero. Thus, in this paper we try to analyse the rationale behind government investment in industry post independence. At the beginning of the First World War, Europeans managing agency houses enjoyed unchallenged supremacy in the private corporate sector of the Indian economy. At the end of the Second World War this supremacy had been broken and Indian entrepreneurs, advancing by rapid strides in the inter-war period, were now in a position to take over the business of the departing British. [Working Paper No. 0025]
    Keywords: eigtheenth, nineteenth centuries, private sector units, British Government, unchallenged supremacy,Indian Entrepreneurs, second world war
    Date: 2010
  2. By: Douglas Coate
    Abstract: A severe earthquake in San Francisco in 1906 severed electrical and gas lines and collapsed chimneys. Fires resulted, burning for four days over 2800 acres. The commercial and residential center of the city was destroyed. Two hundred fifty thousand people of the city’s 400,000 population were left homeless, including a majority of public and private sector workers. Municipal records of land titles and bank account records were lost. Payouts from property insurance claims, necessary for rebuilding, were in doubt because policies covered damage from fires, but not from earthquakes. The municipal government was corrupt. Yet, within three years the city was rebuilt, commercial activity restored, and the population level recovered. Two public sectors developments were key. The first was the actions of U.S. Army troops stationed outside the fire zone at the Presidio and Fort Mason. They moved to maintain order, protect property, and fight fires within hours of the earthquake. They patrolled the city for 74 days. These actions were extra-legal in that martial law was never declared. Army troops also built and maintained the communications network, took over the distribution of food and other supplies, and constructed and ran many of the relief camps. The second development was also extra-legal. The municipal government was displaced the day of the earthquake by a citizens committee of business and civic leaders. This Committee would control local government funds, including $10 million in donations, and dictate or cajole liberal land use, zoning, business licensing, and building trade rules to speed redevelopment and build confidence in the recovery. Thus, the U.S. Army and the Committee set the stage for rapid redevelopment by maintaining property rights and a legal and administrative framework conducive to a robust private market rebuilding of the city. In a narrow sense the uniqueness of the U. S. Army response and the displacement of the municipal government means the San Francisco recovery is not generalizable to other disasters. In a broader sense, however, the extraordinary San Francisco recovery echoes Hirshleifer: “Historical experience suggests that recovery [from a disaster] will hinge upon the ability of government to maintain or restore property rights together with a market system that will support the economic division of labor.”
    Keywords: San Francisco, earthquakes, urban disasters
    JEL: O41 R11
    Date: 2010–07
  3. By: Peter L. Rousseau; Caleb Stroup
    Abstract: We examine econometrically the real effects of paper money's introduction into colonial New England over the 1703-1749 period. Departing from earlier analyses that focus primarily on the depreciation of paper money in the region, we show that expansion of the money stock promoted growth in modern sector activity and not the other way around. We also find that bills emitted for seigniorage purposes had a positive effect on the modern sector, while bills issued through loan banks did not.
    JEL: E42 N11
    Date: 2010–07
  4. By: Battilossi, Stefano; Escario, Regina; Foreman-Peck, James (Cardiff Business School)
    Abstract: Was Spanish fiscal policy destabilizing? We estimate policy reaction functions and test the impact of fiscal shocks on growth volatility over the period 1950-1998. We find that a transition from pro-cyclical to countercyclical fiscal policy occurred in the late years of the Franco regime, contributing to the stabilization of the growth pattern. The timing of the shift, between the late 1960s and early 1970s, was not determined by a single policy change, but rather by gradual pressure from economic liberalization, the external constraint imposed by a fixed exchange rate regime and the modernization of fiscal policy instruments. The aggressiveness of fiscal shocks also decreased over time, thus contributing to the progressive stabilization of output growth. There appears to be little necessity to appeal to a 'Great Moderation' of monetary policy to understand the greater stability of the Spanish economy from the 1980s
    Keywords: fiscal reaction function; fiscal shocks; SVAR; growth volatility
    JEL: E32 E62 N14
    Date: 2010–07
  5. By: Roger Fouquet
    Abstract: Understandably, focus on a transition to a low carbon economy has overshadowed what happens when the transition has been completed. This paper tries to offer lessons about the very long run aspects of a future economy reliant predominantly on renewable energy sources. The evidence is based on past economies and civilizations and their experiences of economic expansion driven by renewable energy resources. The paper proposes that economies around the world, since antiquity, have managed to survive, and even develop and grow driven by renewable energy sources. Successful long run economic growth depended on sound management of demand, supply and trade of woodfuel. Where governments failed to develop appropriate policies, growth and development was severely constrained. Despite the uncertainty about the future, this paper proposes that researchers start to consider the nature of long run economic growth and appropriate policies within renewable energy systems.<br />
    Keywords: renewable energy; economic growth; low carbon economy; economic history
    Date: 2010–07
  6. By: Emmenegger, Patrick (University of Southern Denmark); Marx, Paul (IZA)
    Abstract: This article examines the role of business in the historical development of job security regulations in Germany from their creation in the inter-war period to the dawn of the crisis of the 'German Model' in the 1980s. It contrasts the varieties of capitalism approach, which sees business as protagonists, or at least consenters, in the development of job security regulations with a conflict-oriented approach, which sees the labour movement as protagonists and business as antagonists in the development of job security regulations. The empirical analysis is based on primary and secondary sources and shows that at no point in time German employers preferred strict over flexible job security regulations. Quite the contrary, high levels of job security regulations have been forced upon employers by radicalized labour movements in periods of business weakness in the aftermath of both World Wars.
    Keywords: job security regulations, Germany, institutional change, varieties of capitalism, power resources, industrial relations
    JEL: K31 N34 N44
    Date: 2010–07
  7. By: Leandro Prados de la Escosura
    Abstract: The pessimistic flavour of the Human Development Reports appears to be in contradiction with their own numbers as developing countries fare comparatively better in human development than in per capita GDP terms. This paper attempts to bridge this gap by providing a new, ‘improved’ human development index [IHDI], informed by welfare economics. The IHDI is presented here alongside the UNDP’s HDI for the world and its main regions since the late nineteenth century. Social dimensions in the IHDI are derived, following Kakwani (1993), with a convex achievement function, while a geometric average is employed to combine its dimensions (longevity, knowledge, and income). Thus, the IHDI does not conceal the gap between rich and poor countries and casts a much less optimistic view than the conventional UNDP index, while fits with the UNDP concern for international differences. The paper’s findings highlight main weaknesses in human development dimensions of present-day developing countries.
    Keywords: Human development, Life expectancy, Education, Per capita GDP
    JEL: O15 I00 N30 O50
    Date: 2010–06
  8. By: Michael D. Bordo; Owen F. Humpage; Anna J. Schwartz
    Abstract: The Federal Reserve abandoned foreign-exchange-market intervention because it conflicted with the System’s commitment to price stability. By the early 1980s, economists generally concluded that, absent a portfolio-balance channel, sterilized foreign-exchange-market intervention did not provide central banks with a mechanism for systematically influencing exchange rates independent of their monetary policies. If intervention were to have anything other than a fleeting, hit-or-miss effect on exchange rates, monetary policy had to support it. Exchange rates, however, often responded to U.S. monetary-policy initiatives, so intervention to offset or reverse those exchange-rate responses can seem a contrary policy move and can create uncertainty about the strength of the System's commitment to price stability. That the U.S. Treasury maintained primary responsibility for foreign-exchange intervention only compounded this uncertainty. In addition, many FOMC participants feared that swap drawings and warehousing could contravene the Congressional appropriations process and, therefore, potentially pose a threat to System independence, a necessary condition for monetary-policy credibility.
    Keywords: Banks and banking, Central ; Foreign exchange administration ; Monetary policy ; Federal Open Market Committee
    Date: 2010
  9. By: Gerald Munyoro; John H. Ll Dewhurst
    Abstract: Industrial clustering policy is now an integral part of economic development planning in most advanced economies. However, there have been concerns in some quarters over the ability of an industrial cluster-based development strategy to deliver its promised economic benefits and this has been increasingly been blamed on the failure by governments to identify industrial clusters. In a study published in 2001, the DTI identified clusters across the UK based on the comparative scale and significance of industrial sectors. The study identified thirteen industrial clusters in Scotland. However the clusters identified are not a homogeneous set and they seem to vary in terms of their geographic concentration within Scotland. This paper examines the spatial distribution of industries within Scotland, thereby identifying more localised clusters. The study follows as closely as possible the DTI methodology which was used to identify such concentrations of economic activity with particular attention directed towards the thirteen clusters identified by the DTI. The paper concludes with some remarks of the general problem of identifying the existence of industrial clusters.
    Keywords: Industrial Clusters, Scottish economy, Travel-to-work areas
    JEL: L23 R12
    Date: 2010–07
  10. By: Ferrero, Mario
    Abstract: This paper suggests a rational explanation for extreme voluntary sacrifice in situations in which the state of the world when the decision must be made is observable only by the agent. Such explanation is the cult of martyrs, heroes, and saints. This cult may get out of control and fuel fanaticism, or excessive sacrifice from the standpoint of the sponsoring organization. A survey of the historical evidence of Christian martyrdom strongly suggests that martyrs were driven by the expectation of a cult in this world, not by otherworldly rewards. In particular, it is argued that the evidence of excess martyrdom in both Muslim Spain and the Roman Empire strongly speaks for the cult theory.
    Keywords: martyrdom, cult, afterlife, economics of religion, principal-agent model, suicide terrorism
    JEL: D74 D82 Z12
    Date: 2010–07
  11. By: Marc Nikitin (Laboratoire Orléanais de Gestion)
    Abstract: Nous considérons comme « auteurs comptables » ceux qui ont fait avancer la doctrine comptable par la publication d’ouvrages portant leur signature. Une telle définition fixe les limites temporelles de l’étude : avant 1494, il n’y avait pas, à notre connaissance, d’ouvrages ; donc pas d’auteurs. Depuis 1947 en France, la normalisation à imposé que l’élaboration de la doctrine comptable ne soit plus laissée à l’initiative d’individus : elle est collective (socialisée ?). La question centrale à laquelle nous tentons d’apporter des éléments de réponse est la suivante : « Qui étaient, sociologiquement parlant, ceux qui ont élaboré cette discipline ? ». à l’évidence ils n’étaient pas des scientifiques ni des comptables (dans les sens actuels de ces deux termes), mais des membres de l’élite du moment, capables de synthétiser l’état des connaissances et surtout des besoins de leur époque. Selon les périodes, les professions ont évolué et l’on peut trouver, de façon nécessairement schématique : Des mathématiciens et des commerçants aux XV° et XVI° siècles, des teneurs de livres indépendants et des enseignants aux XVII° et XVIII° siècles, des industriels, et enfin des enseignants et des experts au XIX° siècle. Le XX° siècle voit la fin des auteurs comptables, en raison de l’institutionnalisation des experts comptables, de la socialisation de l’élaboration de la comptabilité et plus récemment du poids croissant des marchés financiers.
    Keywords: Auteurs comptables, profession, doctrine comptable
    Date: 2010
  12. By: Stelios Michalopoulos (Tufts University); Alireza Naghavi (University of Bologna and FEEM); Giovanni Prarolo (University of Bologna and FEEM)
    Abstract: This research examines the economic origins of Islam and uncovers two empirical regularities. First, Muslim countries, virtual countries and ethnic groups, exhibit highly unequal regional agricultural endowments. Second, Muslim adherence is systematically larger along the pre-Islamic trade routes in the Old World. The theory argues that this particular type of geography (i) determined the economic aspects of the religious doctrine upon which Islam was formed, and (ii) shaped its subsequent economic performance. It suggests that the unequal distribution of land endowments conferred differential gains from trade across regions, fostering predatory behavior from the poorly endowed ones. In such an environment it was mutually beneficial to institute a system of income redistribution. However, a higher propensity to save by the rich would exacerbate wealth inequality rendering redistribution unsustainable, leading to the demise of the Islamic unity. Consequently, income inequality had to remain within limits for Islam to persist. This was instituted via restrictions on physical capital accumulation. Such rules rendered the investments on public goods, through religious endowments, increasingly attractive. As a result, capital accumulation remained low and wealth inequality bounded. Geography and trade shaped the set of economically relevant religious principles of Islam affecting its economic trajectory in the preindustrial world.
    Keywords: Religion, Islam, Geography, Physical Capital, Human Capital, Land Inequality, Wealth Inequality, Trade
    JEL: O10 O13 O16 O17 O18 F10 Z12
    Date: 2010–06
  13. By: Karine Fabre (DRM - Dauphine Recherches en Management - CNRS : UMR7088 - Université Paris Dauphine - Paris IX)
    Abstract: L'industrialisation et le flux continu d'innovations techniques à la fin du XIXe siècle modifient considérablement la structure du bilan des entreprises au sein duquel les immobilisations prennent une place croissante. Ces changements dans l'environnement technique rendent nécessaires le recours à des sources de financement externes. Ces évolutions ne sont pas sans conséquence sur le modèle comptable français qui se diffuse au début du XXe siècle. Un déplacement de l'objet de la comptabilité est observable : d'un moyen de preuve et de garantie, elle doit désormais être un instrument d'information en raison de l'introduction de nouvelles parties prenantes de l'entreprise. Parallèlement, l'outil comptable et l'importante latitude qu'il permet, en l'absence de normalisation, ne doivent plus servir à la seule rétention des bénéfices mais permettre un arbitrage entre la constitution de réserves et la rémunération des actionnaires. C'est notamment à travers les modalités de comptabilisation et d'évaluation des actifs que cet arbitrage est rendu possible. L'étude de cas de L'Air Liquide, de sa création à 1939, illustre les nouveaux enjeux qui pèsent sur l'objet comptable au début du XXe siècle et met en évidence l'importance que revêt la problématique de l'évaluation des actifs dans ce contexte. L'étude de la structure financière de cette société et de ses choix comptables montre plus largement l'étroite relation de la comptabilité avec l'évolution du capitalisme.
    Keywords: histoire de la comptabilité; valeur; actifs; L'Air Liquide
    Date: 2009–12
  14. By: Justin Sandefur
    Abstract: The size of the informal sector is commonly associated with low per capita GDP and a poor business environment. Recent episodes of reform and growth in several African countries appear to contradict this pattern. From the mid 1980’s onward, Ghana underwent dramatic liberalization and achieved steady growth, yet average firm size in the manufacturing sector fell from 19 to just 9 employees between 1987 and 2003. I use a new panel of Ghanaian firms, spanning 17 years immediately post-reform, to model firm dynamics that differ markedly from well-established ‘stylized facts’ in the empirical literature from other regions. In contrast with American and European firms, entry of new firms and selection on observable characteristics, rather than within-firm growth, dominates industrial evolution in Ghana.
    Date: 2010
  15. By: Anne Pezet (DRM - Dauphine Recherches en Management - CNRS : UMR7088 - Université Paris Dauphine - Paris IX); Jérémy Morales (DRM - Dauphine Recherches en Management - CNRS : UMR7088 - Université Paris Dauphine - Paris IX)
    Abstract: De nombreuses études illustrent une montée en puissance de la fonction financière dans les organisations, qui traduirait un processus de financiarisation universel et inéluctable. Par une étude ethnographique, nous avons tenté d'analyser les impacts concrets sur les pratiques quotidiennes de gestion de cette tendance. Nous avons alors montré que la trajectoire de la financiarisation était influencée par la compétition qui s'instaure entre groupes professionnels dans les organisations. En retour, son apparente universalité peut être utilisée pour légitimer les arguments de certains acteurs au détriment des autres. Nous montrons donc dans ce papier comment les contrôleurs de gestion et leurs dispositifs jouent le rôle de passeurs de la financiarisation, sans négliger les adaptations et compromis, locaux et contextuels, nécessaires pour la faire entrer dans les pratiques concrètes d'une organisation.
    Keywords: financiarisation, contrôleurs de gestion, lutte intraorganisationnelle, ethnographie
    Date: 2010
  16. By: Jean-Sébastien Gharbi (GREQAM - Groupement de Recherche en Économie Quantitative d'Aix-Marseille - Université de la Méditerranée - Aix-Marseille II - Université Paul Cézanne - Aix-Marseille III - Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) - CNRS : UMR6579); Pelin Sekerler Richiardi (Centre Walras-Pareto - Université de Lausanne, PHARE - Pôle d'Histoire de l'Analyse et des Représentations Economiques - CNRS : FRE2541 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I - Université de Paris X - Nanterre)
    Abstract: Les libertariens de gauche défendent à la fois la pleine propriété de soi et l'égale propriété des ressources naturelles. Pour cette raison, ils présentent Léon Walras, qui prônait la pleine propriété de nos facultés personnelles et la propriété commune des terres (1896), comme un de leurs précurseurs (Vallentyne, 1999 ; Vallentyne & Steiner, 2000). Le seul texte qui a véritablement interrogé cette filiation théorique (Bourdeau, 2006) tentait de distinguer le républicanisme de Walras du libertarisme de gauche contemporain en montrant que ces deux positions adoptaient des conceptions différentes de la propriété des ressources naturelles. Cet argument nous semble pouvoir être discuté. Pour ce faire, nous nous proposons, dans un premier temps, de détailler les similitudes qui existent dans la présentation que Walras et les libertariens de gauche donnent de la propriété de soi et de celle des ressources naturelles. Les deux positions aboutissent en effet à une même remise en cause du terme classique de « propriété » concernant les ressources naturelles. Notre démarche ne consistera toutefois pas à faire de Walras un libertarien de gauche. Nous mettrons, dans un second temps, en évidence les points de divergence entre la théorie de la propriété de Walras et la théorie de la justice sociale défendue par les libertariens de gauche. Cela nous permettra, dans un troisième temps, de réinterroger le rapport de Léon Walras au libertarisme de gauche et de déterminer s'il peut à bon droit être qualifié de « précurseur » de cette théorie contemporaine de la justice.
    Keywords: Léon Walras, Libertarisme de gauche, Justice sociale, Propriété
    Date: 2010–07–12

This nep-his issue is ©2010 by Bernardo Batiz-Lazo. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.