New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2011‒05‒07
thirteen papers chosen by

  1. The rise and fall of Spain (1270-1850) By Carlos Álvarez Nogal; Leandro Prados de la Escosura
  2. Bankruptcy law and practice in 19th century France By Pierre-Cyrille Hautcoeur; Nadine Levratto
  3. Land-use profiles of agrarian income and land ownership inequality in the province of Barcelona in mid-nineteenth century By Enric Tello; Marc Badia-Miró
  4. The Rate and Direction of Invention in the British Industrial Revolution: Incentives and Institutions By Ralf Meisenzahl; Joel Mokyr
  5. Did Plant Patents Create the American Rose? By Petra Moser; Paul W. Rhode
  6. Inequality and growth in the very long run: inferring inequality from data on social groups By Modalsli, Jørgen
  7. The Comeback of the Swiss Watch Industry on the World Market: A Business History of the Swatch Group (1983-2010) By Pierre-Yves DONZÉ
  8. Patterns of industrial specialisation in post-Unification Italy By Ciccarelli, Carlo; Proietti, Tommaso
  9. The Scorecard on Development, 1960-2010: Closing the Gap? By Mark Weisbrot; Rebecca Ray
  10. In search of the ‘economic dividend’ of devolution: spatial disparities, spatial economic policy and decentralisation in the UK By Pike, Andy; Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés; Torrisi, Giampiero; Tselios, Vassilis; Tomaney, John
  11. Los conflictos por el agua en el País Valenciano durante la etapa feudal: el ejemplo de los molinos By Tomàs Peris-Albentosa
  13. Diplomatic Intervention in Civil War : Trade for All or Trade for One? By Mathieu COUTTENIER; Raphael SOUBEYRAN

  1. By: Carlos Álvarez Nogal; Leandro Prados de la Escosura
    Abstract: Two distinctive regimes are distinguished in Spain over half-a-millennium. A first one (1270s-1590s) corresponds to a high land-labour ratio frontier economy, pastoral, trade-oriented, and led by towns. Wages and food consumption were relatively high. Sustained per capita growth occurred from the Reconquest’s end (1264) to the Black Death (1340s) and resumed from the 1390s only broken by late- 15th century turmoil. A second regime (1600s-1810s) corresponds to a more agricultural and densely populated low-wage economy which grew along a lower path. Contrary to preindustrial Western Europe, Spain achieved her highest living standards in the 1340s, not by mid-15th century. Although its population toll was lower, the Plague had a more damaging impact on Spain and, far from releasing non-existent demographic pressure, destroyed the equilibrium between scarce population and abundant resources. Pre-1350 per capita income was reached by the late 16th century but only overcome after 1820.
    Keywords: Preindustrial Spain, Frontier economy, Reconquest, Black Death, Rise, Decline, Western Europe
    JEL: E01 N13 O47
    Date: 2011–04
  2. By: Pierre-Cyrille Hautcoeur (EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics - Ecole d'Économie de Paris, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS : UMR8545 - Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) - Ecole des Ponts ParisTech - Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris - ENS Paris); Nadine Levratto (EconomiX - CNRS : UMR7166 - Université de Paris X - Nanterre, Euromed Marseille - Ecole de management - Euromed Marseille)
    Abstract: In this paper, we try to measure the impact of the changes in French bankruptcy law in the 19th century focusing on the behaviour of economic agents as users of bankruptcy law for the sake of finding the best solution to their economic problems. Debtors used bankruptcy law in order to minimize their debt level when facing difficulties in servicing it, but they had to convince their creditors and/or the courts of their good faith, and faced the adverse effects of bankruptcy on their reputation and on the smooth functioning of their business. Creditors used bankruptcy law in order to force their debtors to pay, if they could. Judges - who in the French system of specialized commercial courts were elected entrepreneurs - applied the law within a specific economic context (both a specific local context and at a specific moment in the business cycle) which could affect them. The first part of the paper presents the evolution of French bankruptcy law during the 19th century in its historical context. The second part briefly describes the theoretical model we use in order to understand the choices facing debtors and creditors in the face of financial distress. The last part proposes some major stylized facts concerning bankruptcies during that period (based on contemporary official statistics) and tries to understand their relationship with the legal evolution described before.
    Keywords: bankruptcy law ; failure ; firm size ; law implementation ; legal origin ; merchant courts ; France ; 19th century
    Date: 2011–04–21
  3. By: Enric Tello (Department of Economic History and Institutions,Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Barcelona (Spain)); Marc Badia-Miró (Department of Economic History and Institutions,Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Barcelona (Spain))
    Abstract: According to the existing literature, when land remained the most abundant factor an increase in market integration is expected to lead to a greater inequality in wealth or income distribution. However, several case studies on the vineyard specialization experienced in Catalonia during the 18th and 19th centuries suggested another outcome: land ownership and agrarian income became less uneven, not the opposite. The outstanding interpretation posed by Catalan rural historians deserves to be confirmed or rejected by applying different inequality and polarization indices (Gini, Theil and top incomes), and innovative methods (inequality possible frontier and extraction ratios), to the big dataset we have been able to assemble with the information provided for every cadastral taxpayer of each municipality in the Distribution of Personal Wealth in Real Estate Ownership in the Province of Barcelona published in 1852 by the Official Gazette, combined with other population and land-use data listed in a Land-Use Statistics of the Province of Barcelona compiled in 1858. The results confirm that landownership and income inequality were lower in winegrowing municipalities than in cereal-cropping or forest ones, in spite of the fact that commercial specialization and higher population densities could have meant an extended frontier of possible inequality.
    Keywords: agrarian income distribution, land ownership, personal inequality, regional inequality, land-use patterns, tax burden
    JEL: N53 D31 H24 Q15
    Date: 2011–01
  4. By: Ralf Meisenzahl; Joel Mokyr
    Abstract: During the Industrial Revolution technological progress and innovation became the main drivers of economic growth. But why was Britain the technological leader? We argue that one hitherto little recognized British advantage was the supply of highly skilled, mechanically able craftsmen who were able to adapt, implement, improve, and tweak new technologies and who provided the micro inventions necessary to make macro inventions highly productive and remunerative. Using a sample of 759 of these mechanics and engineers, we study the incentives and institutions that facilitated the high rate of inventive activity during the Industrial Revolution. First, apprenticeship was the dominant form of skill formation. Formal education played only a minor role. Second, many skilled workmen relied on secrecy and first-mover advantages to reap the benefits of their innovations. Over 40 percent of the sample here never took out a patent. Third, skilled workmen in Britain often published their work and engaged in debates over contemporary technological and social questions. In short, they were affected by the Enlightenment culture. Finally, patterns differ for the textile sector; therefore, any inferences from textiles about the whole economy are likely to be misleading.
    JEL: N13 N73 O31 O34 O43
    Date: 2011–04
  5. By: Petra Moser; Paul W. Rhode
    Abstract: The Plant Patent Act of 1930 was the first step towards creating property rights for biological innovation: it introduced patent rights for asexually-propagated plants. This paper uses data on plant patents and registrations of new varieties to examine whether the Act encouraged innovation. Nearly half of all plant patents between 1931 and 1970 were for roses. Large commercial nurseries, which began to build mass hybridization programs in the 1940s, accounted for most of these patents, suggesting that the new intellectual property rights may have helped to encourage the development of a commercial rose breeding industry. Data on registrations of newly-created roses, however, yield no evidence of an increase in innovation: less than 20 percent of new roses were patented, European breeders continued to create most new roses, and there was no increase in the number of new varieties per year after 1931.
    JEL: K0 N12 O3 O31 O34 Q0
    Date: 2011–04
  6. By: Modalsli, Jørgen (Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo)
    Abstract: Income distribution data from before the Industrial Revolution usually comes in the shape of social tables: inventories of a range of social groups and their mean incomes. These are frequently reported without adjusting for within-group income dispersion, leading to a systematic downward bias in the reporting of pre industrial inequality. This paper suggests a correction method, and applies it to an existing collection of twenty-five social tables, from Rome in AD 1 to India in 1947. The corrections, using a variety of assumptions on within-group dispersion, lead to substantial increases in the Gini coefficients. Combining the inequality levels with data on GDP, a robust positive relationship between income inequality and economic growth is confirmed. This supports earlier proposals, based on fewer data points, of a "super Kuznets curve" of increasing inequality over the entire pre-industrial period.
    Keywords: Pre-industrial inequality; social tables; Kuznets curve; history
    JEL: C65 D31 N30 O11
    Date: 2011–04–28
  7. By: Pierre-Yves DONZÉ (Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics, Post-doctoral Research Fellow of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS))
    Abstract: The objective of this paper is to contribute to a better understanding of the comeback of the Swiss watch industry on the world market since the end of the 1980s. It focuses on the Swatch Group (SG), currently the worldfs biggest watch company. In 1983, the merger of the largest watch group (SSIH) and of the trust controlling the production of parts and movements of watches (ASUAG) into SG was the main measure taken to overcome the Japanese competition. Managed since 1986 by Nicolas G. Hayek (1928-2010), SG experienced a high growth and recovered its competitiveness on the world market, becoming a driving force for the entire Swiss watch industry. This success is traditionally explained by the firm itself and by scholars as the result of the launch of a new product (Swatch, a cheap plastic quartz watch first marketed in 1983) and the persistence of an old technical culture in Switzerland which enabled this rebirth. This paper, based on SG annual reports, focuses on the strategy adopted by SG since 1983. It shows that, rather than product innovation (Swatch), it was the rationalization and globalization of the production system (concentration of strategic partsf production in Switzerland; transfer of production facilities in Asia), together with a new marketing strategy (brand segmentation, distribution and retailing facilities, communication, etc.) which were the two main sources of the comeback of the Swiss watch industry on the world market. While Japanese still attach great attention to product innovation, SG largely established its competitiveness on non-technological innovation.
    Keywords: Watch Industry; Switzerland; Swatch Group; Luxury Goods; Marketing Strategy
    JEL: M31 N80
    Date: 2011–04
  8. By: Ciccarelli, Carlo; Proietti, Tommaso
    Abstract: This paper investigates the patterns of sectoral specialisation in Italian provinces over half a century following the Unification of the country. To this end we propose a multivariate graphical technique named dynamic specialisation biplots. In 1871 specialisation vocations toward the different manufacturing sectors were limited in size and no clear geographical path emerged. A regional specialisation divide resulted clearly in 1911. In 1871 as in 1911 the foodstuffs, the textile, and the engineering sectors represented the three pillars delimiting the arena of the specialisation race. Within that arena, sharp changes in the directions of specialisation trajectories characterise a group of selected Northern provinces, largely attracted by the textile sector from the 1880s and from the engineering sector in the pre-War decade. Within region homogeneity and smooth specialisation trajectories are instead representative of most of the remaining provinces. Among them, Southern provinces exhibit specialisation paths revealing that little more than a composition effect occurred among manufacturing sectors.
    Keywords: manufacturing industry; specilisation; post-Unification Italy
    JEL: N63 N93 L60
    Date: 2011–04–21
  9. By: Mark Weisbrot; Rebecca Ray
    Abstract: This paper is the third installment in a series (the first and second editions were in 2001 and 2005) that traces a long-term growth failure in most of the world's countries.
    Keywords: development, globalization, GDP,
    JEL: F1 F2 F33 F34 I12 I18 O47 O54 O57 E6 E52
    Date: 2011–04
  10. By: Pike, Andy (SERC, Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS), Newcastle University); Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés (SERC, Department of Geography and Environment, London School of Economics and IMDEA Social Sciences Institute); Torrisi, Giampiero (SERC, Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS), Newcastle University); Tselios, Vassilis (SERC, Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS), Newcastle University); Tomaney, John (SERC, Department of Geography and Environment, London School of Economics and IMDEA Social Sciences Institute)
    Abstract: After a decade of devolution and amid uncertainties about its effects, it is timely to assess and reflect upon the evidence and enduring meaning of any ‘economic dividend’ of devolution in the UK. Taking a multi-disciplinary approach utilising institutionalist and quantitative methods, this paper seeks to discern the nature and extent of any ‘economic dividend’ through a conceptual and empirical analysis of the relationships between spatial disparities, spatial economic policy and decentralisation. Situating the UK experience within the historical context of its evolving geographical political economy, we find: i) a varied and uneven nature of the relationships between regional disparities, spatial economic policy and decentralisation that change direction during specific time periods; ii) the role of national economic growth is pivotal in explaining spatial disparities and the nature and extent of their relationship with the particular forms of spatial economic policy and decentralisation deployed; and, iii) there is limited evidence that any ‘economic dividend’ of devolution has emerged but this remains difficult to discern because its likely effects are over-ridden by the role of national economic growth in decisively shaping the pattern of spatial disparities and in determining the scope and effects of spatial economic policy and decentralisation.
    Keywords: Economic dividend; devolution; spatial disparities; spatial economic policy; decentralisation; UK.
    JEL: D53 R51
    Date: 2011–04–28
  11. By: Tomàs Peris-Albentosa
    Abstract: In places like the Valencian Region, where the climate is arid, the flow rate of the rivers is irregular, and irrigation is essential if agrarian returns are to increase, the way water was distributed among irrigators often gave rise to clashes between them. This paper begins with an analysis of the mechanisms that were used in the irrigated areas of Valencia, during the feudal era, to prevent these kinds of conflicts from getting out of hand. It then focuses on the disputes that arose between farmers and millers. Contrary to what is usually claimed, there is no decisive evidence to show that the millers were a permanent cause of such troubles, which only reached a dangerous level of intensity in certain places at certain times
    Keywords: Mills, Water, Irrigation, Valencia, Spain.
    JEL: L79 N53 Q15 Q25
    Date: 2011–04
  12. By: Francesc Granell (Universitat de Barcelona)
    Abstract: Al llarg del segle XIX Espanya va ser un soci actiu per la creacio de les primeres organitzacions mundials de caracter tecnic. Durant el segle XX Espana va participar en l'establiment de la Societat de Nacions creada despres de La Primera Guerra Mundial, pero el regim favorable a l'Eix de Franco fou inicialment exclos de les Nacions Unides, les institucions de Bretton Woods, GATT i Pla Marshall i les agencies creades despres de la Segona Guerra Mundial. L'escenari de la Guerra Freda va fer possible que el regim de Franco fos admes al Sistema de les Nacions Unides i les principals organitzacions economiques internacionals. Nomes despres de la mort de Franco, la Monarquia Constitucional Espanola va poder ingresar plenament en la integracio europees i les organitzacions occidentals de caracter politic. Espana es actualment un dels paisos mes involucrats en els esforcos internacionals per crear Bens Publics Globals a traves d'organitzacions internacionals i de la Unio Europea.
    Keywords: imf, gatt, league of nations, regional development banks, international public goods, international organizations, world bank, united nations system, euro
    JEL: F53 F59 F33 F00 F02 F13
    Date: 2011
  13. By: Mathieu COUTTENIER; Raphael SOUBEYRAN
    Abstract: This paper looks at whether diplomatic intervention in civil war has affected trade over the post World War II period. We show that the intervener derives no commercial advantage from diplomatic intervention ; trade between the intervener and the target country does not increase more than trade between the target country and its other partners. However, we find that diplomatic intervention has a positive and persistent effect on trade between the target country and all its partners. Keywords : Civil War, Trade, Foreign Influence, Gravity Equation.
    Date: 2011–04

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