New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2013‒05‒11
twelve papers chosen by

  1. Why business historians need a constructive theory of the archive By Schwarzkopf, Stefan
  2. Fiscal Discriminations in Three Wars By George J. Hall; Thomas J. Sargent
  3. The international mercury cartel, 1928-1949 By López-Morell, Miguel A.; Segreto, Luciano
  4. Child Labour and Height in the early Spanish industrialization By José M. Martínez-Carrión; Javier Puche-Gil; José Cañabate-Cabezuelos
  5. Varieties of Home Ownership: Ireland’s transition from a socialised to a marketised policy regime By Michelle Norris
  6. Does cutting back the public sector improve efficiency? Some evidence from 15 European countries By Sabrina Auci; Laura Castellucci; Manuela Coromaldi
  7. Why Marx Still Matters By Jon D. Wisman
  8. Achieving development success: Strategies and lessons from the developing world By Fosu, Augustin Kwasi
  9. Marc Barbut au pays des médianes. By Bernard Monjardet
  10. Markets for Development Rights: Lessons Learned from Three Decades of a TDR Program By Walls, Margaret
  11. Houshold Aggregate Wealth In The Main OECD Countries From 1980 To 2011: What Do The Data Tell Us? By Riccardo De Bonis; Daniele Fano; Teresa Sbano
  12. If Technology Has Arrived Everywhere, Why has Income Diverged? By Diego A. Comin; Martí Mestieri Ferrer

  1. By: Schwarzkopf, Stefan
    Abstract: Archival records are a constitutive element of business historical research, and such research, in turn, is fundamental for a holistic understanding of the role of enterprise in modern capitalist societies. Despite an increasing debate within business history circles about the need to theorize the historian as author and creator of narratives, a fuller reflection on the uses and limitations of the archive in business historical research has not yet taken place. This article takes its lead from theories of organisational epistemology, and asks to what extent business historians are trapped by an outdated, realist methodology and epistemology which is in danger of ignoring the multiple roles that archives play in their knowledge production.
    Keywords: Business History; Methodology; Epistemology; Archives; Organizational Epistemology; Sociology of Knowledge
    JEL: B00 B4 N01 N80
    Date: 2013–01
  2. By: George J. Hall; Thomas J. Sargent
    Abstract: In 1790, a U.S. paper dollar was widely held in disrepute (something shoddy was not ‘worth a Continental’). By 1879, a U.S. paper dollar had become ‘as good as gold.’ These outcomes emerged from how the U.S. federal government financed three wars: the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. In the beginning, the U.S. government discriminated greatly in the returns it paid to different classes of creditors; but that pattern of discrimination diminished over time in ways that eventually rehabilitated the reputation of federal paper money as a store of value.
    JEL: E4 E6 H5 H6 N11
    Date: 2013–05
  3. By: López-Morell, Miguel A.; Segreto, Luciano
    Abstract: Mercury has been one of the most persistent cases in contemporary history of international market regulations and this in spite of its having been affected by important technological changes and the regular discovery of new deposits. This paper offers an approach to the least known period, although perhaps the one in which the greatest rises in process and production occurred as a consequence of market manipulation. The period coincides with a series of agreements between the Spanish and the Italian producers and the outcome was a worldwide cartel known as “Mercurio Europeo” which came into being in 1928. The aims of this work will, therefore, be first to describe the features of the various stages of development of the international mercury market during the first half of the twentieth century, with emphasis on the characteristics and conditioning factors in each period. Secondly, the objective is to analyze the various market agreements that came about, the effectiveness of the clauses therein, the construction of distribution networks and the influence that the increase in production had on other mines and on certain technological developments.
    Keywords: Mercury, Cartels, International trade, history
    JEL: D43 F1 F12 N54
    Date: 2013
  4. By: José M. Martínez-Carrión (Universidad de Murcia, Madrid, Spain); Javier Puche-Gil (Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain); José Cañabate-Cabezuelos (Universidad de Murcia, Madrid, Spain)
    Abstract: Child labour has been considered a health risk affecting physical growth. Together with income, diets, diseases and environmental hygiene, child labour is one of the determinants of height. This paper examines whether child labour affected the stature of young workers during the spread of industrialization. With military recruitment heights it is analyzed the impact that child labour might have on physical health and nutritional status. After reporting on what happened during the Industrial Revolution in Britain, France and other industrialized countries, it is highlighted the contribution made by Spanish hygienists, whose importance has increased since the 1880´s. The following sections provide results of height evolution at the beginning of Spanish industrialization in major industrial and mining districts. Our findings emphasize the stature deterioration resulting from child labour, and the remarkable role that anthropometric history plays within economic and social history, and labour history too.
    Keywords: Child labour, height, health, nutrition, labour productivity
    JEL: I18 J28 J81 N33
    Date: 2013–05
  5. By: Michelle Norris (School of Applied Social Science University College Dublin)
    Abstract: This paper examines government subsidisation of home ownership in Ireland since the start of the 20th Century. It argues that during the first two thirds of this period, Ireland slowly assembled government home ownership supports of such scale – in terms of the generosity of subsidies, their universal availability and the variety of policy instruments employed in the promotion this tenure – that they equated to a socialised home ownership regime. This helped to raise home ownership to ‘super normal’ levels, initially in the countryside and then in urban areas, by enabling the vast majority of all income groups, even the poorest, to purchase a home. During the 1970s and particularly the 1980s this socialised home ownership system was marketised as universal government subsidies were initially targeted and then abolished, government’s role as a developer/enabler of home owner housing was ended and the mortgage lending system was privatised and then deregulated. The implications of this policy redirection were is guised for a period by low real house price inflation compared to wages. However when the economy started to recover during the late 1990s these implications became clear – the ‘super normal’ home ownership rates underpinned by the socialised regime declined and reverted to ‘normal’ market rates
    Keywords: housing policy regimes, home ownership, Ireland
    JEL: H2 N4 R31
    Date: 2013–04–30
  6. By: Sabrina Auci (University of Palermo); Laura Castellucci (University of Rome "Tor Vergata"); Manuela Coromaldi (University of Rome “Niccolò Cusano)
    Abstract: The successful development of the welfare state that transpired for three decades after WWII in the developed countries, came to a halt around the end of the 1980s. Since then, the number of articles and books dedicated to the crisis of the welfare state has increased. We can now assert that at the turn of the century, almost all industrialized countries had cut at least “some” entitlements in their welfare program along with other expenditure items, and the trend continued in the first decade of this century. To defend the cuts and possibly to justify continuing cuts, several economic reasons, both theoretical and empirical, have been highlighted. From mention of Baumol’s disease to the fiscal crisis, the support for making such decisions by governments gained momentum, with their political inspiration changing during the same period in favor of more conservative, right-wing positions. The low productivity of the public sector and the high level of tax burden were the substantial arguments used to support cuts. The aim of this paper is to provide an empirical investigation into the impact of retrenchment of the public sector on the performance of 15 European countries. In particular, we aim to empirically test the view that “big government” reduces a country's efficiency. We have found that no such empirical support exists. We have also included analysis of the distribution of income through the Gini index and have found the standard trade-off relation between inequality and efficiency.
    Keywords: Stochastic frontier production function, public sector productivity, welfare
    JEL: H11 H53 O4 D6
    Date: 2013–04–30
  7. By: Jon D. Wisman
    Abstract: This article explores why a deep understanding of Marx's project is essential for developing an adequate science of society. The imperative to re-examine Marx's project has been made evident not only by the incapacity of the fragmented contemporary social sciences to grasp the causes and necessary responses to capitalism's current crises, but more urgently what is arguably humanity's greatest challenge -- avoiding ecological devastation and perhaps even ecocide. Due to space limitations, this article cannot address these pressing issues directly. Instead, it focuses on how Marx's approach offers the most promising scope and method for addressing challenges such as these. Marx viewed humanity's struggle to overcome nature's scarcity as causally and dynamically related to social organization and social consciousness. Critical to this breadth, and what is yet more alien to the Anglo-American social science tradition, Marx unfolded a theory of our self-creation, the manner in which products of our manual and intellectual labor act back upon us to create us socially and intellectually. To the extent that we lose consciousness of this authorship, we are unfree. We are controlled by our own creations, frequently in harmful manners. Our full freedom, and therefore our capacity to come to terms with contemporary challenges requires a social science with the breadth of Marx's that enables us to recover awareness of our authorship of our social creations and thereby be empowered to control them, as opposed to being their victims.
    Keywords: freedom, dialectics, materialist history, methodology
    JEL: B3 B4 B51
    Date: 2013
  8. By: Fosu, Augustin Kwasi
    Abstract: This paper provides a synthesis of successful strategies and implied lessons for development success, employing at least six themes on in-depth case studies of a large number of developing countries around the world. The coverage includes East Asia and th
    Keywords: development success, strategies and lessons, developing world
    Date: 2013
  9. By: Bernard Monjardet (Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne et CAMS-EHESS)
    Abstract: The notion of median originally appeared in Statistics was introduced more later in Algebra and Combinatorics. Marc Barbut was the first to develop the link between these two notions of median. I present his precursory works linking the metric medians and the algebraic medians of a distributive lattice and using these links within the framework of the "median procedure" in data analysis. I also give a short survey on the development of the – more general – theory of "median spaces" and I mention some problems about the median procedure.
    Keywords: Distributive lattice, majority relation, median graph, median procedure, median semilattice, metric space.
    Date: 2013–04
  10. By: Walls, Margaret (Resources for the Future)
    Abstract: Transferable development rights (TDRs) are a market-based approach to land conservation. They allow the development rights from one property to be transferred to another, with the first “sending” property placed under a development restriction or conservation easement and the “receiving” property permitted more dense development than would otherwise be allowed by baseline zoning regulations. This paper summarizes the economics literature on TDRs and describes a long-running program in a county in Maryland, one of the few programs with an active TDR market. It updates previously published results from the program and describes some problems that have arisen in recent years as the program has matured. The paper offers some observations as to why these problems have occurred and suggestions for other communities considering TDR programs.
    Keywords: TDRs, zoning, sprawl, farmland preservation, easements
    JEL: Q24 Q28 Q15 R14
    Date: 2012–12–06
  11. By: Riccardo De Bonis (Banca d'Italia, Economics and International Relations Area); Daniele Fano (Universit… Tor Vergata di Roma); Teresa Sbano (Pioneer Investments)
    Abstract: This paper analyses aggregate household wealth in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK and the US. Building on a new data set for the time span 1980-2011, we discuss the trends in household financial assets in the last thirty years, the reasons for differences across countries, the tendency towards convergence, the economic interpretation of breaks in time series and the effects of the recent financial crisis. We also comment on the evolution of household debt and real assets. In discussing the empirical evidence, the paper summarises some of the recent literature on household wealth.
    Keywords: financial systems, household wealth and debt
    JEL: E0 E21 G20
    Date: 2013–05
  12. By: Diego A. Comin; Martí Mestieri Ferrer
    Abstract: We study the lags with which new technologies are adopted across countries, and their long-run penetration rates once they are adopted. Using data from the last two centuries, we document two new facts: there has been convergence in adoption lags between rich and poor countries, while there has been divergence in penetration rates. Using a model of adoption and growth, we show that these changes in the pattern of technology diffusion account for 80% of the Great Income Divergence between rich and poor countries since 1820.
    JEL: E23 N1 O11 O12 O4
    Date: 2013–05

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