nep-his New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2016‒06‒09
seventeen papers chosen by
Bernardo Bátiz-Lazo
Bangor University

  1. Rediscovery of the Idea of 'Soviet Society' at the End of 1930 - the Second Half of the 1950s By Maiofis, M. L.; Kukulin, Ilya Vladimirovich
  2. Cross checking the sound database with the french balance du commerce data By Loïc Charles; Guillaume Daudin
  3. Researchers and the Wealth of Nations By Cabello, Matias; Rojas, Carolina
  4. Gamblers and gentlefolk: money, law and status in Trollope's England By Nicola Lacey
  5. Why East Germany did not become a new Mezzogiorno By Andrea Boltho; Wendy Carlin; Pasquale Scaramozzino
  6. Inequality and the New Deal By Christian A. Belabed
  7. Back to the Future: International Trade Costs and the Two Globalizations By Michel Fouquin; Jules Hugot
  8. The Deep Historical Roots of Macroeconomic Volatility By Sam Hak Kan Tang; Charles Ka Yui Leung
  9. The Spanish path of agrarian change, 1950-2005: From authoritarian to export-oriented productivism By Ernesto Clar; Miguel Martín-Retortillo; Vicente Pinilla
  10. Le patrimoine au XXIe siècle: Piketty face à ses critiques By Guillaume Allegre; Xavier Timbeau
  11. Ownership and the Price of Residential Electricity: Evidence from the United States, 1935-1940 By Carl T. Kitchens; Taylor Jaworski
  12. The Impact of Slave Trade on Current Civil Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa By Zhang, Yu; Kibriya, Shahriar
  13. Do Combination Forecasts Outperform the Historical Average? Economic and Statistical Evidence By Thomadakis, Apostolos
  14. Ronald H. Coase and the Economics of Network Infrastructures By Claude Menard
  15. Calamity, Conflict and Cash Transfers: How Violence Affects Access to Aid in Pakistan By Yashodhan Ghorpade

  1. By: Maiofis, M. L. (Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA)); Kukulin, Ilya Vladimirovich (Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA))
    Abstract: The article is focused on difficulties, boundaries and new approaches in the study of the institutional history of the USSR. It demonstrates applicability and usefulness of microhistory and history of ideas and concepts for this work. It is based on a micro-historical study. Analyzing the documents from the personal archival collection of a social activist, pedagogue and military expert Boris Ivanovitch Zhurin (1890-1964), the authors demonstrate that the 1939 turned to be very important in his career. It was just in 1939 when Zhurin changed his previous “modest” profession of engineer-constructor specializing in concrete buildings for a profession of military expert and for the role of social activist and publicist. As a military expert, Zhurin spent the years 1939 and 1940 writing a monograph about interaction of different combat arms, including artillery and reconnaissance aviation, during the advance of Russian troops in June, 1917. He was convinced that this experience would be vital during the next war. As a social activist and publicist, in 1939 Zhurin elaborated a program of mobilization of the so called “parental public” (roditelskaya obshestvennost) for the purposes of supporting Soviet school. Zhurin invented, described and promoted a new social institute which he called “parents’ committees in multiple dwellings,” insisting that this would have been the best instrument to control and improve family education. This second “know-how” was also based on the idea of interaction, as the parents’ committees had to establish close relationship with district executive committees (ispolkom), school administration and school parents’ committees, local Komsomol departments, and house management as well. This program was partly implemented in the 1950s. Zhurin’s program greatly anticipated the new notion of “public” (obschestvennost) and new social politics promoted by N. Khruschev on the XXth Party Congress in 1956. Thorough observation of Zhurin’s archive and publications and reconstruction of the historical context of both 1939 and the “Thaw” years bring the author to the conclusion that Zhurin perceived Soviet society after the Great Terror as being completely atomized, demoralized by low competence of higher command (in army) and state bureaucrats and lacking the channels of knowledge and experience transmission, and strived to invent new models to rebuild and intensify “horizontal” social ties.
    Keywords: Soviet Society, 1930s, 1950s
    Date: 2016–03–10
  2. By: Loïc Charles (Institut National d'études Démographiques (INED)); Guillaume Daudin (OFCE)
    Abstract: During the eighteenth century Europe set the cultural, political and economic conditions for its entry in the industrial era. While the role of international trade has been for a long time considered as a minor factor in the industrial revolution, the focus of economic history has changed somewhat during the last two decades. The emergence of a global perspective in economic history has led prominent scholars to account for the important role of international trade in the rise of Europe over other world regions 5 But whereas extra-European trade is comparatively well known and has been the object of recent syntheses,6intra-European trade has largely been neglected. The scarcity of works on foreign trade statistics of preindustrial times is all the more unfortunate as external trade flows are the single economic data that (some) early modern states have collected with the most care. Indeed, the first attempts at measuring foreign trade regularly can be dated back to the seventeenth century. From 1696 on, the English crown was able to collect a continuous series of customs data and release a yearly evaluation of the English balance of trade. The French royal administration created the Bureau de la balance du commerce in 1713. Its task was to produce a yearly document that detailed the French external trade and calculated its general balance. There was a pan European move towards a more extensive and better measurement of external trade throughout the eighteenth century, with various countries gathering the same data through their central administrations .
    Keywords: 18th century; Interational trade statistics; France; Baltic; Sound globalization; Economic history
    JEL: N73 N01
    Date: 2016–01
  3. By: Cabello, Matias; Rojas, Carolina
    Abstract: Despite the repeated claim by eminent students of economic growth that scientists and inventors have contributed to economic development, no study has yet quantified this effect using the rich historical record of great minds. Introducing a novel database of per capita researchers since the antiquity, we show that the history of research activity (corrected for geographical biases) predicts economic growth over the long run better than any other established growth predictor, and that this predictive power, while subject to swings, has been consistently increasing through time over the long run. These conclusions are drawn after presenting a number of facts suggesting that forces exogenous to income and population growth have determined how intensively countries have engaged in research. In contrast to a large body of literature, we find that property rights and schooling have been of minor importance for research and for economic growth through modern history.Our estimated dynamic impact of researcher densities on economic growth are very consistent through a variety of samples and regressions, based either on cross-sectional or on time-series variance. Permanently doubling the number of researchers per capita had barely an impact in 1800, but today its impact might be an increase of annualized economic growth rates of 1% in a 20-years span.
    Keywords: Economic growth, long run, science, research, education, institutions.
    JEL: N1 N10 O11 O30 O43 O47
    Date: 2016–05–19
  4. By: Nicola Lacey
    Abstract: This paper examines the range of very different conceptions of money and its legal and social significance in the novels of Anthony Trollope, considering what they can tell us about the rapidly changing economic, political and social world of mid Victorian England. It concentrates in particular on Orley Farm (1862) - the novel most directly concerned with law among Trollope’s formidable output - and The Way We Live Now (1875) - the novel most directly concerned with the use and abuse of money in the early world of financial capitalism. The paper sets the scene by sketching the main critiques of money in the history of the novel. Drawing on a range of literary examples, it notes that these critiques significantly predate the development of industrial let alone financial capitalism. Probably the deepest source of ambivalence about money in the novel has to do with ‘commodification’. As this concern unfolds in Trollope, it tells us a great deal about changing conceptions of property in a world in which industrial capitalism sat alongside practices of speculative investment geared simply to the multiplication of money. Trollope’s nostalgia for the world of land sits alongside an increasingly sharp critique of the power of money, and these novels illuminate the rapidly changing economic, political and social world of mid Victorian England. They also speak, as it were, volumes on the relative effectiveness of the different regulatory resources which can be brought to bear upon each form of wealth. And they open some fascinating windows on the gendering of both money and law as concepts in the later Victorian imagination.
    JEL: N0
    Date: 2016–02–10
  5. By: Andrea Boltho (Magdalen College, University of Oxford); Wendy Carlin (University College London and CEPR); Pasquale Scaramozzino (SOAS, University of London and Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata)
    Abstract: In an earlier paper (Journal of Comparative Economics, 1997) the authors argued, against the conventional wisdom of the time, that East Germany was unlikely to follow a development path similar to that of the Italian Mezzogiorno. This paper revisits the issue some 25 years after German reunification. Statistical tests show that the absence of income per capita convergence between South and North that has characterized Italy since the war, continued over the last two or more decades. Germany, on the other hand, has, over the same period, seen significant income convergence between East and West. The main explanations that are provided for such contrasting outcomes stress differences between the two countries (and within the two countries) in investment performance, in labour market flexibility, and, in particular, in developments in the tradeable sector whose performance in East Germany has been much superior to that of the Mezzogiorno. These differences, in turn, are linked to very different standards of institutional quality and governance which are almost certainly rooted in the two “poor” regions’ longer-run history.
    Keywords: East Germany, Mezzogiorno, Investment performance, Labour market, Flexibility, Social capital, Competitiveness, Economic complexity.
    JEL: N10 O11 O57 P52 R11
    Date: 2016–05
  6. By: Christian A. Belabed
    Abstract: There is a large body of literature analyzing the onset of the Great Depression or the factors influencing economic recovery in the 1930s, especially the New Deal. The role of income inequality before and during the Great Depression, however, has almost never been discussed thoroughly. This paper attempts to answer two questions. Firstly, was inequality perceived as a problem by the Roosevelt administration? Secondly, did the New Deal incorporate these concerns such that economic policy design did take seriously the problem of inequality? Using official documents such as transcripts of Roosevelt's inaugural speeches, fireside chats and press conferences, this paper finds that top-end inequality was not recognized as a major political topic. Restoring the purchasing power of workers and farmers, however, appears to have been a political goal of the administration. The impact of New Deal policies on top-end income inequality or the wage share, however, can only be considered as modest. Only World War II and the long-term legislation of the New Deal may be considered successful in reducing top income and wealth shares and raising the wage share.
    Keywords: Inequality, income and wealth distribution, new deal, Roosevelt, Great Depression
    JEL: D31 D33 E02 E21 E25 G01 N12 N22 N32 N62
    Date: 2016
  7. By: Michel Fouquin; Jules Hugot
    Abstract: This article provides an assessment of the nineteenth century trade globalization based on a systematic collection of bilateral trade statistics. Drawing on a new data set of more than 1.9 million bilateral trade observations for the 1827-2014 period, we show that international trade costs fell more rapidly than intra-national trade costs from the 1840s until the eve of World War I. This finding questions the role played by late nineteenth century improvements in transportation and liberal trade policies in sparking this First Globalization. We use a theory-grounded measure to assess bilateral relative trade costs. Those trade costs are then aggregated to obtain world indices as well as indices along various trade routes, which show that the fall of trade costs began in Europe before extending to the rest of the world. We further explore the geographical heterogeneity of trade cost dynamics by estimating a border effect and a distance effect. We find a dramatic rise in the distance effect for both the nineteenth century and the post-World War II era. This result shows that both modern waves of globalization have been primarily fueled by a regionalization of world trade.
    Keywords: Globalization;Trade Costs;Border Effect;Distance Effect
    JEL: F14 F15 N70
    Date: 2016–05
  8. By: Sam Hak Kan Tang; Charles Ka Yui Leung
    Abstract: We present cross-country evidence that a country’s macroeconomic volatility, measured either by the standard deviation of output growth or the occurrence of trend-growth breaks, is significantly affected by the country’s historical variables. In particular, countries with longer histories of state-level political institutions experience less macroeconomic volatility in post-war periods. Robustness checks reveal that the effect of this historical variable on volatility remains significant and substantial after controlling for a host of structural variables investigated in previous studies. We also find that the state history variable is more important in countries with a higher level of macroeconomic volatility.
    Date: 2016–04
  9. By: Ernesto Clar; Miguel Martín-Retortillo; Vicente Pinilla
    Abstract: The aim of this study is to determine whether the Spanish path of agrarian change, between 1950 and 2005, exhibits some features important enough to differentiate it from the common model of developed countries in Western Europe. On the one hand, the Spanish agrarian transformations share the main features which took place in Western Europe: technological innovation, increased production and productivity, loss of importance of the agricultural sector, tight integration with the industrial sector and, finally its high impact on the environment. On the other hand, a series of important peculiarities can be observed in the Spanish agrarian change: strong expansion of intensive livestock farming; importance of increased irrigation to explain the transformation of agriculture; policies that offered very little support to the agricultural sector under a dictatorship that denied a voice to farmers; maintaining a very prominent role in the economy despite its small contribution to GDP.
    Keywords: Agricultural change, European agriculture, Agricultural policies, European economic history
    JEL: N54 O13 Q18
    Date: 2016–04
  10. By: Guillaume Allegre (OFCE); Xavier Timbeau (OFCE)
    Abstract: Le succès mondial du livre de Thomas Piketty a donné lieu à une floraison de commentaires, laudateurs ou plus critiques. La recension des principaux arguments invite à considérer le patrimoine et non le capital comme le véritable objet de cet ouvrage.
    Keywords: Commentaires sur la thèse de Thomas Piketty; Patrimoine et héritage
    Date: 2015–09
  11. By: Carl T. Kitchens; Taylor Jaworski
    Abstract: In this paper, we quantify the difference between public and private prices of residential electricity immediately before and after major federal reforms in the 1930s and 1940s. Previous research found that public prices were lower in a sample of large, urban markets. Based on new data covering over 15,000 markets and nearly all electricity generated for residential consumption, we find the difference between public and private prices was small in 1935 and negligible in 1940 for typical levels of monthly consumption. These findings are consistent with a market for ownership that helped to discipline electricity prices during this period. That is, private rents were mitigated by the threat that municipalities would use public ownership to respond to constituent complaints and public rents were limited by electoral competition and the growth of private provision.
    JEL: D4 N12
    Date: 2016–05
  12. By: Zhang, Yu; Kibriya, Shahriar
    Abstract: Slave trade affects regional economic development, degree of trust among individuals, community cohesion, and ethnic identity, which in turn have a bearing on the spatial distribution of civil conflict in Africa. Hence, ethnic homelands that have more slaves exported are expected to be more prone to conflict. By using a subnational dataset in Sub Sahara Africa (SSA) between 1997 and 2014, we find that slave trade in the colonial period significantly causes higher risks of civil conflict in the present. In order to reduce the concern of endogeneity, we employ the historical slave trade distances as instruments, which do not affect conflict except through their influence on slave trade.
    Keywords: civil conflict, slave trade, sub Saharan Africa, Institutional and Behavioral Economics, International Development,
    Date: 2016–08–02
  13. By: Thomadakis, Apostolos
    Abstract: This paper examines the out-of-sample predictability of monthly German stock returns, and addresses the issue of whether combinations of individual model forecasts are able to provide significant out-of-sample gains relative to the historical average. Empirical analysis over the period from 1973 to 2012 implies that firstly, the term spread has the in-sample ability to predict stock returns, secondly, and most importantly, this variable successfully delivers consistent out-of-sample forecast gains relative to the historical average, and thirdly, combination forecasts do not appear to offer a significant evidence of consistently beating the historical average forecasts of the stock returns. Results are robust using both statistical and economic criteria, and hold across different out-of-sample forecast evaluation periods.
    Keywords: Equity Premium, Forecast Combination, Out-of-Sample Forecast, Mean-Variance Investor
    JEL: C22 C32 C53 G11 G17
    Date: 2016–05–20
  14. By: Claude Menard (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: The legitimate emphasis put on the two leading contributions from Ronald Coase, ‘The nature of the Firm’ and ‘The problem of social cost’, has its dark side: it has kept under the bushel the rich empirical investigations that provided the scaffolding of most Coasean analyses. With the possible exception of his often revisited assessment of the Federal Communications Commission (1959) and his economics of the lighthouses (1974), very little attention has been paid to the continuing investment that Coase made in the analysis of network infrastructures. Throughout his long intellectual life, Coase published over 30 notes, papers, books, and extensive reports on what we now identify as network infrastructures, mainly telecommunications and postal services, but also gas, electricity, or ‘public’ transportation. He started doing so very early, in a devastating review of a book on the institutional structure of public utilities (1938a) and continued to do so without major disruptions until his very last contributions. In this chapter, I propose an exploration of this abundant and rich material, with an emphasis on two major lessons: (1) the analyses developed by Coase remain particularly relevant for the modern analysis of network infrastructures; (2) they highlight an approach to regulation and policy a good deal more subtle than is often assumed.
    Keywords: Transaction costs, infrastructures, networks, institutions, meso-institutions
    Date: 2016
  15. By: Yashodhan Ghorpade (Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9RE, UK.)
    Abstract: State presence and longevity have long been associated with growth and development, and yet analyzing their relationship remains challenging as both the length of state rule and geographical boundaries change over time. After addressing conceptual and practical concerns on its construction, we present a measure of the mean duration of state rule that is aimed at resolving some of these issues. We then present our findings on the relationship between our measure and local development, drawing from observations in Europe spanning from 0 AD to 2000 AD. We find that during this period, the mean duration of state rule and the local income level have a nonlinear, inverse U-shaped relationship, controlling for a set of historical, geographic and socioeconomic factors. Regions that have historically experienced short or long duration of state rule on average lag behind in their local wealth today, while those that have experienced medium-duration state rule on average fare better.
    Date: 2016–05
    Date: 2016
    Date: 2016

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