nep-his New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2012‒01‒10
four papers chosen by
Bernardo Batiz-Lazo
Bangor University

  1. Economic History or History of Economics? A Review Essay on Sylvia Nasar's Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius By Ashenfelter, Orley
  2. El carácter de la especialización olivarera en el sur de España (1750-1930). Ecología, campesinado e historia By Juan Infante Amate
  3. ¿Puede ser considerado el auge antioqueño de la segunda mitad del siglo XIX un modelo de desarrollo económico local? By Mejía Cubillos, Javier
  4. La calidad institucional en Argentina en el largo plazo By María Florencia Aráoz

  1. By: Ashenfelter, Orley (Princeton University)
    Abstract: In this essay I review Sylvia Nasar's long awaited new history of economics, Grand Pursuit. I describe how the book is an economic history of the period from 1850-1950, with distinguished economists' stories inserted in appropriate places. Nasar's goal is to show how economists work, but also to show that they are people too – with more than enough warts and foibles to show they are human! I contrast the general view of the role of economics in Grand Pursuit with Robert Heilbroner's remarkably different conception in The Worldly Philosophers. I also discuss more generally the question of why economists might be interested in their history at all.
    Keywords: economic history, economic growth, economic policy
    JEL: B10 B30
    Date: 2011–12
  2. By: Juan Infante Amate
    Abstract: Olive tree represents today the major tree concentration in Europe. Its great expansion started at 19th Century caused by liberal agrarian reforms and, traditionally, has been associated with agrarian modernization in Mediterranean basin due to the growing integration of its production in domestic and foreign markets. This paper seeks to review the causes and the origins its expansion introducing new methods derived form environmental history and social history. We study local case studies which historical sources allow us to profound in this subject with more detail than at aggregate scale, starting at 1750 (when olive land was scarce) and finishing at 1930 (once consummated the firs great expansion known as “golden age”). The main findings show the causes of the weak specialization before 19th Century; the multifunctional character of traditional olive production; how its expansion was also determined by ecological particularities of this crop and by its function on substitute deficit products like woodfire or animal feed; and, finally, how small farming was behind its expansion using olive orchards like a peasant productive strategy.
    Keywords: history of the olive tree, environmental history, agricultural history, agrarian specialization, peasantry
    JEL: N53 O13 Q4 Q10
    Date: 2012–01
  3. By: Mejía Cubillos, Javier
    Abstract: This paper describes the main features of the economy of Antioquia during the second half of the 19th century. It tries to identify if it followed a local economic development model. In addition to a novel reinterpretation of the economic takeoff of Antioquia, based on recent sources collected, the paper represents a major contribution in the theory of local development, since, through a axiomatization process, it is proved that many of the considerations of the local development approach, usually considered acceptable in the context of post-industrial societies, are, indeed, correct in pre-industrial societies also. After conducting this as a conceptual framework and describing the characteristics of Antioquia pattern of economic development, trying to identify elements that could resemble it to an archetypal model of local development, the document concludes with some reflections on the case of study.
    Keywords: Economic growth; local economic development; Antioquia; 19th century
    JEL: N01 O17 N16 O10 N96
    Date: 2011–12–02
  4. By: María Florencia Aráoz
    Abstract: La evolución de la economía argentina en el período 1862-2008 ha sido por lo menos desconcertante. Entre 1860 y 1930 Argentina creció a un ritmo con pocos paralelos en la historia económica mundial. En los años siguientes, sin embargo, comenzó un proceso de desaceleración y estancamiento que paulatinamente la alejó de esa posición privilegiada. Diversos autores han intentado explicar las causas de este comportamiento y aunque algunos destacan el papel negativo de un marco institucional débil, este enfoque ha sido escasamente abordado desde una perspectiva empírica y de largo plazo. Este trabajo presenta el primer indicador multidimensional de calidad institucional para Argentina en el largo plazo (1862-2008) tomando en cuenta variables que aseguren o refuercen el respeto por los derechos de propiedad, tales como Cambios en la Constitución Nacional y en las Constituciones Provinciales, la estabilidad del sistema político, medida a través de las interrupciones al orden democrático, declaraciones de Estado de Sitio e Intervenciones Federales, así como variables vinculadas al funcionamiento de la economía, tales como Presupuesto, Independencia del Banco Central, Coparticipación de Impuestos, entre otras. La calidad institucional medido por el indicador propuesto sugiere que la calidad institucional fue relativamente alta hasta aproximadamente 1930 cuando no sólo el nivel promedio baja sino que también la volatilidad del mismo aumenta.
    Keywords: Instituciones, Indicadores, Argentina
    JEL: E02 C43 O17
    Date: 2011–12

This nep-his issue is ©2012 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.