nep-his New Economics Papers
on Business, Economic and Financial History
Issue of 2022‒01‒17
seventeen papers chosen by
Bernardo Bátiz-Lazo
Northumbria University

  1. Killer Cities and Industrious Cities? New Data and Evidence on 250 Years of Urban Growth By Remi Jedwab; Marina Gindelsky
  2. Economic trajectory of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria (1946-1990) By Gomes, Luiz
  3. Demography’s theory and approach: (how) has the view from the margins changed? By Sigle-Rushton, Wendy
  5. Is the business of business business alone? The International Chamber of Commerce and the origins of global business diplomacy, 1920-1931 By Hoffer, Rewert
  6. The game is afoot: The French reaction to game theory in the fifties By Rabia Nessah; Tarik Tazdaït; Mehrdad Vahabi
  7. Reconstruction Aid, Public Infrastructure, and Economic Development: The Case of the Marshall Plan in Italy By Michela Giorcelli; Nicola Bianchi
  8. A Journey in the History of Sovereign Defaults on Domestic Law Public Debt, Sovereign Histories By Aitor Erce; Enrico Mallucci; Mattia Picarelli
  9. Poverty in early modern Europe: New approaches to old problems By Guido Alfani; Francesco Ammannati; Wouter Ryckbosch
  10. Innovation under central planning: patenting and productivity in the GDR By Frieling, Titus
  11. Central banks - independent or almighty? By Issing, Otmar
  12. A Journey in the History of Sovereign Defaults on Domestic Law Public Debt By Aitor Erce; Enrico Mallucci; Mattia Picarelli
  13. Star Power and Risk. A Political Economic Study of Casting Trends in Hollywood By McMahon, James
  14. Writing good economics: how texts 'on the move' perform the lab and discipline of experimental economics By Kristin Asdal; Béatrice Cointe
  16. No taxation without informational foundation: On the role of legibility in tax state development By Matthias vom Hau; José Peres-Cajías; Hillel David Soifer
  17. Beyond greenwashing: Addressing 'the great illusion' of green advertising By Béatrice Parguel; Johnson Guillaume

  1. By: Remi Jedwab (George Washington University); Marina Gindelsky (Bureau of Economic Analysis)
    Abstract: In the historical literature, cities of the Industrial Revolution are portrayed as having a demographic penalty: killer cities with high death rates and industrious cities with low birth rates. To econometrically test this, we construct a novel data set of almost 2,000 crude demographic rates for 142 large cities in 35 countries for 1700-1950. Mortality actually decreased faster than fertility during the Industrial Revolution era and rates of natural increase rose in the cities of industrializing countries, especially large cities. This implies a declining, not rising, demographic penalty thanks to the Industrial Revolution. To explain the puzzle, we posit that negative health and industriousness effects of industrial urbanization might have been outweighed by positive effects of increased income and life expectancy.
    Keywords: Urban Demographic Penalty; Killer Cities; Industrious Cities; Mortality; Fertility; Natural Increase; Industrial Revolution; Urban Growth
    JEL: N90 N30 N10 R00 J10
    Date: 2022–01
  2. By: Gomes, Luiz
    Abstract: The objective of this work is to carry out a historical investigation about the economy of Bulgaria during the period between 1946 and 1990. Throughout this span, the country studied had claimed socialism as its social system. Because of this, the focus of analysis will be on the key features and the historical evolution of the so-called real socialism. The method employed for this is historical prospecting based on data and literature on the subject. The results indicate that the economic, social, and political contradictions of real socialism were the main causes for the end of this regime. To achieve its objective, this work is divided into sections, which are organized according to the most relevant themes for understanding the economic development of the former People’s Republic of Bulgaria.
    Keywords: History, Economics, Europe, Bulgaria, Socialism.
    JEL: N0
    Date: 2021–12–20
  3. By: Sigle-Rushton, Wendy
    Abstract: Around the time that Population Studies celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1996, Susan Greenhalgh published ‘An intellectual, institutional, and political history of twentieth-century demography’. Her contribution described a discipline that, when viewed from its margins, prompted scholars in other disciplines to ask the following questions: ‘Why is the field still wedded to many of the assumptions of mid-century modernization theory and why are there no critical … perspectives in the discipline?’ (Greenhalgh 1996, p. 27). Those questions still arise today. Similarly, Greenhalgh’s observation that ‘neither the global political economies of the 1970s, nor the postmodernisms and postcolonialities of the 1980s and 1990s, nor the feminisms of any decade have had much perceptible impact on the field’ (pp. 27–8), remains a fairly accurate depiction of research published in Population Studies and other demography journals. In this contribution, focusing predominantly on feminist research and insights, I discuss how little has changed since 1996 and explain why the continued lack of engagement concerns me. Demographers still often fail to appreciate the impossibility of atheoretical ‘just descriptive’ research. Our methods carry assumptions and so rely on (often) implicit theoretical frameworks. Not making frameworks explicit does not mean they do not exert an important influence. I end by proposing that the training of research students should be part of a strategy to effect change.
    Keywords: feminist theory; modernization theory; sex role theory; gender; situated knowledge; Wiley deal
    JEL: N0
    Date: 2021–12–15
  4. By: Christophe Salvat (CGGG - Centre Gilles-Gaston Granger - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - AMU - Aix Marseille Université)
    Abstract: This article questions the articulation between John Stuart Mill's initial project of creating a new science dedicated to the means of improving individual character, a science named "ethology," and the treatise of political economy that he published instead. My claim is that his defense of free competition as well as some of the arguments he opposes to it, and which have often puzzled his readers, actually reveal the moral agenda of his political economy and of some of his political principles, specifically his ambivalent position towards paternalism.
    Date: 2021–10–05
  5. By: Hoffer, Rewert
    Abstract: A growing literature emphasises the importance of non-state actors, both non-governmental organisations and corporations, in international relations since the late twentieth century. It is, however, often overlooked that business diplomacy and the influence of organised private actors on international economic relations has a much longer history. Relatedly, the workings of business associations that operated globally and represented more than one chamber of commerce have so far not been adequately analysed within the historical literature on business pressure groups. This dissertation will show that the businesspeople organised within the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), founded in 1920, possessed a high degree of influence on financial and economic diplomacy in the 1920s. Key members of the Chamber participated in reparations negotiations and collaborated closely with the Economic and Financial Organisation of the League of Nations. Through these channels of influence, the ICC could become one of the most important agents of economic globalisation in the interwar period. An analysis of ICC primary sources from the 1920s will provide readers with a new interpretation of the determinants of transatlantic capital movements after the conclusion of the Dawes Plan, evidence for the early contributions of business to global governance, an actor-centred view on globalisation processes, and a more nuanced perspective on interwar business and economic history in general.
    JEL: N0 L81
    Date: 2021–12
  6. By: Rabia Nessah (LEM - Lille économie management - UMR 9221 - UA - Université d'Artois - UCL - Université catholique de Lille - Université de Lille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, IESEG School of Management Lille); Tarik Tazdaït (CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales, ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech); Mehrdad Vahabi (CEPN - Centre d'Economie de l'Université Paris Nord - LABEX ICCA - UP13 - Université Paris 13 - Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3 - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UP - Université de Paris - Université Sorbonne Paris Nord - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - Université Sorbonne Paris Nord)
    Abstract: In this paper, we are interested in exploring the history of game theory in France, and particularly the way it was received and was diffused in the fifties. It will be shown that France was the most fertile soil in the whole continental Europe for a multidisciplinary welcoming to game theory. Reviewing certain aspects of the intellectual trajectory of the mathematician Guilbaud, the ethnologist Lévi-Strauss and the psychanalyst Lacan, we show how each of them, in his own way, played a key role in advancing game theory: (1) Guilbaud for his constancy in disseminating game theory (and mathematics in general) (2) Lévi-Strauss for his original interpretation of game theory that had some impact on social sciences; and (3) Lacan for using the contributions of game theory. Lacan and Lévi-Strauss were particularly convincing since they were instructed on request about the principles of game theory by Guilbaud.
    Date: 2021
  7. By: Michela Giorcelli; Nicola Bianchi
    Abstract: The Marshall Plan (1948–1952) was the largest aid transfer in history. This paper estimates its effects on Italy’s postwar economic development. It exploits differences between Italian provinces in the value of reconstruction grants they received. Provinces that could modernize more their infrastructure experienced higher increases in agricultural production, especially for perishable crops. In the same provinces, we observe larger investments in labor-saving machines, the entry of more firms into the industrial sector, and a larger expansion of the industrial and service workforce.
    JEL: H84 N34 N44 O12 O33
    Date: 2021–12
  8. By: Aitor Erce (Universidad Pública de Navarra & LUISS School of European Policy); Enrico Mallucci (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System); Mattia Picarelli (European Stability Mechanism)
    Abstract: Did This document contains our collection of sovereign histories for the 74 domestic-law default episodes that we include in our database. Sovereign histories are meant to complement our database and the associated paper, providing the full details of domestic-law defaults and restructurings. As we detail in the paper, domestic-law default were identified consulting a large number of sournces including country reports and program reviews from the IMF, documents from the World Bank and the OECD, Public Information Notes, policy reports from development banks and other international institutions, accounts from Ministries and Central Banks, rating agencies publications, debt exchange offers, academic books,research papers, an extensive google search, and a press review through Factiva. The vastity and the diversity of the sources we consulted makes us confident that our coverage is close to the universe of domestic-law defaults from 1980 to 2018.
    Date: 2021
  9. By: Guido Alfani (Bocconi University); Francesco Ammannati (University of Florence); Wouter Ryckbosch (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)
    Abstract: Earlier research on poverty failed to provide us with consistent measures of its prevalence across space and time. This is due to the limitations of the available sources and to the difficulty of applying to them the poverty definitions of modern social science. This article discusses different possible approaches to poverty measurement and the problems encountered when applying them to historical sources. Thereafter it proposes a way to measure absolute and, more importantly, relative poverty which makes good use of the information made available by recent research on inequality. We detect a long-run tendency towards an increase in the prevalence of poverty, both in the South and in the North of Europe. This trend was only temporarily interrupted by large-scale plague and other catastrophes, although the Black Death had stronger and more persistent poverty-reducing effects. Our approach, which this article applies mostly to Italy, the Low Countries and partially Germany and other areas, could be used for even broader international comparisons.
    Keywords: Poverty, economic inequality, social inequality, wealth concentration, Middle Ages, early modern period, Italy, Low Countries, Germany, plague, Black Death
    JEL: D31 I12 I14 I30 N30 J11 J31
    Date: 2022–01
  10. By: Frieling, Titus
    Abstract: This thesis employs novel datasets on patenting activity and TFP in the GDR to study the relationship between innovation and productivity. Patenting activity is chosen as a variable of interest due to its inherent link to the innovative process and high international and intertemporal comparability. No statistically significant relationship between patenting and future productivity growth is found in an analysis across 16 sectors of the GDR’s economy from 1950-1989. This result is unusual, and likely results out of the institutional framework of the GDR: firstly, it being a planned economy and the associated reduced productivity effects of innovations, and secondly, the GDR’s unique patent system which likely increased the number of patent applications while reducing their economic usefulness. By including the full breadth of the GDR’s patent stock, as well as robustly estimating the initial capital stock of the GDR, a more reliable account of both these variables can be made than was possible in previous studies. This thesis contributes to the literature through its use of new data and an adaptation of a proven empirical identification strategy to a new context. It also suggests avenues for further research on the relationship between patenting and innovation in the GDR and planned economies more widely.
    JEL: R14 J01 N0
    Date: 2021–12
  11. By: Issing, Otmar
    Abstract: Historically Central Bank Independence (CBI) was anything but the norm. CBI seems to contradict core principles of democracy. Most economists were also against CBI. After the Great Inflation of the 1970ies many empirical studies demonstrated that there is a strong negative correlation between the degree of CBI and the rate of inflation. In 1990 most major countries had endowed their central bank with the status of independence. Overburdening with elevated expectations and additional competences are threatening the reputation of central banks and undermining the case for CBI.
    Keywords: Central banks
    Date: 2021
  12. By: Aitor Erce (Universidad Publica de Navarra LUISS School of European Policty); Enrico Mallucci (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System); Mattia Picarelli (European Stability Mechanism)
    Abstract: We introduce a novel database on sovereign defaults that involve public debt instruments governed by domestic law. By systematically reviewing a large number of sources, we identify 132 default and restructuring events of domestic debt instruments, in 50 countries from 1980 to 2018. Domestic law defaults are a global phenomenon. Overtime, they have become larger and more frequent than foreign law defaults. Domestic law debt restructurings are achieved faster than foreign ones, often trough extensions of maturities and amendments to the coupon structure. Face value reductions are rare. Unilateral amendments and post-default restructuring are the norm, but negotiated pre-default restructurings are being increasingly used. Finally, we document that domestic defaults are widely heterogeneous. As such, we complement this paper with a collection of documents, named sovereign histories, that provide the fine details about each default episode.
    Date: 2021
  13. By: McMahon, James
    Abstract: This paper builds an empirical and theoretical model to analyze how the financial goal of risk reduction changed the insides of Hollywood's star system. For the moviegoer looking at Hollywood cinema from the outside, the function of the star system has remained the same since the 1920s: to have recognizable actors attract large audiences to Hollywood's biggest and most expensive productions. The composition of this system is, however, sensitive to many historical changes in the business and culture of cinema. If the evolution of Hollywood's star system is shaped by broader social factors, risk reduction would be a key factor after 1980. This paper uses Internet Movie Database (IMDb) casting data to analyze how the star system was a factor in this period of risk reduction. Film casting assists risk reduction when a star system is built on controlled repetition. Repetitive casting - choosing the same people to star in a series of films - is a form of control because repetitive selection is the inequality of opportunity by another name: if an in-group is internally repetitive when alternatives exist, an out-group is repeatedly excluded. There are two key conclusions to the analysis of the IMDb dataset. First, casting repetitiveness/inequality in the blockbuster era of Hollywood (1980-present) is low compared to Hollywood's "classical" studio system (1930-1948). Second, the historically low repetitiveness/inequality can be misleading if we ignore sector characteristics such as firm size and level of theatrical distribution. Within the top-tier, whether measured by size of distributor or number of opening theatres in theatrical release, Hollywood relies on repetitive casting. The theoretical part of this paper will identify the role of capitalist power in the formation of a star system. Capitalist power, in this case, is defined as the ability of Hollywood to control everything from the industrial production of films to the broader social relations of cinema. This control is never absolute, but the role of capitalist power in the star system has a key purpose: to make sure that casting decisions are complementary to business interests.
    Keywords: culture,Hollywood,inequality,risk
    JEL: P16 Z1
    Date: 2022
  14. By: Kristin Asdal (UiO - University of Oslo); Béatrice Cointe (CSI i3 - Centre de Sociologie de l'Innovation i3 - MINES ParisTech - École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: While there is a wealth of research on the history, philosophy and epistemology of economics, few studies approach economics as a practical and material endeavour in the way STS and ethnographies of science have approached natural sciences. To explore how objectivity is practically accomplished in laboratory economic experiments, we focus on a, at the face of it, modest and mundane thing: the written instructions that guide experimental subjects in the lab. In a material-semiotic perspective, these instructions can be understood as text-devices. We follow this text-device 'on the move' from its very writing, through the lab, the review process and out into the journal article. To do so, we analyse "text-author ensembles": journal articles together with practice-oriented interviews with their authors. We show that the instructions act not simply as a text, but as an experimental instrument that also performs the procedure of experimental economics. They draw together the procedural, material and rhetorical dimensions of experimental work in economics, and link the lab setting to collective validation procedures within the discipline of economics. To achieve this, experimental economists rely on qualitative writing skills refined in collective writing and reviewing practices. This particular text-device 'on the move' alert us not only to the role of writing and writing skills in the production of scientific knowledge, but to the role of texts as material and semiotic objects that can produce not only facts, but labs and disciplines too, and that are key to the accomplishment of objectivity in experimental economics.
    Keywords: economics,experiments,texts,performativity,laboratory
    Date: 2021
  15. By: Christian Aubin (CRIEF - Centre de Recherche sur l'Intégration Economique et Financière - Université de Poitiers)
    Abstract: This paper reconsiders the Fisherian equation of exchange by explicitly distinguishing two types of transactions associated with industrial circulation, on the one hand, and financial circulation, on the other. In this context, a formal link can be established between the financialization of the economy and the downward trend in the income velocity of money during the last decades.
    Abstract: Ce papier reconsidère l'équation fisherienne des échanges en distinguant explicitement deux types de transactions associées, d'une part, à une circulation industrielle et, d'autre part, à une circulation financière. Dans ce cadre, un lien peut être établi entre la financiarisation de l'économie et la baisse tendancielle de la vitesse-revenu de circulation de la monnaie des dernières décennies.
    Keywords: money,quantity theory of money,equation of exchange,velocity of money,financialization,monetary policy
    Date: 2021–12–19
  16. By: Matthias vom Hau; José Peres-Cajías; Hillel David Soifer
    Abstract: This paper combines cross-national statistical analysis and in-depth historical case studies of Argentina and Chile to explore the relationship between two crucial dimensions of state capacity. We show that information capacity contributes to the development of fiscal capacity. States require accurate information about their subject populations, territories, and economies in order to effectively mobilize revenues. In developing this argument this paper makes three broader contributions.
    Keywords: State capacity, Information, Fiscal capacity, Taxation, Statebuilding, Mixed methods, Latin America
    Date: 2021
  17. By: Béatrice Parguel (DRM - MLAB - Dauphine Recherches en Management - MLAB - DRM - Dauphine Recherches en Management - Université Paris Dauphine-PSL - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique); Johnson Guillaume (DRM MOST - DRM - Dauphine Recherches en Management - Université Paris Dauphine-PSL - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
    Abstract: This article critically reviews how marketing research has investigated green advertising and greenwashing over the past three decades. First, we present how the mainstream literature initially considered green advertising primarily as a branding project, until the greenwashing debate emerged in the 1990s and became the key focus of marketing research on climate change in the late 2000s. Adopting a more critical stance, we then argue that the unanimous and uncritical condemnation of greenwashing in the marketing academic literature actually helps to perpetuate the legitimacy of green advertising, and so prevents challenge to the foundations of the neoliberal agenda. We call this phenomenon the "great green illusion."
    Abstract: Cet article interroge de manière critique comment la recherche en marketing a étudié la publicité verte et le greenwashing au cours des trois dernières décennies. Si la littérature mainstream a d'abord considéré la publicité verte comme participant des opérations de branding des marques et des organisations, le débat sur le greenwashing, apparu dans les années 1990, est devenu central à la fin des années 2000 dans les travaux conduits en marketing sur le changement climatique. Adoptant une posture plus critique, nous soutenons que la condamnation aussi rapide qu'unanime du greenwashing sert, en réalité, à préserver la légitimité de la publicité verte et à éviter de questionner les fondements de l'agenda néolibéral. Elle participe ainsi de ce que nous qualifions de « grande illusion verte. »
    Keywords: green advertising,greenwashing,CSR,regulation,self-regulation,neoliberalism
    Date: 2021

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