Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Do It Yourself Video Course on Modern Economic Growth

This is just a list of a bunch of videos and a few papers related tot he topic of moderne economic growth.

For a long time, the Industrial Revolution was the central concern of economic history. Economic historians attempted to explain why the people in England began to develop new sources of power (the steam engine) and ways to replace human effort with mechanical effort, like the spinning jenny. Marxists, and later institutional economic historians, tended to look earlier for the key changes.

A good place to start is the work of Nicholas Crafts and Robert Allen on the Industrial Revolution

Recently, several historians have challenged the evidence of high wages in England, an important element of Allen’s argument
In these videos Jane Humphries presents one of these challenges and, in doing so, provides a great description of an economic historian’s use of primary sources.

Marxist’s have  longargued that the important transition(from feudalism to capitalism) took place before the Industrial Revolution, but they argued with each other about the nature of that transition. See the Dobb-Sweezy Debate and, later, the Brenner Debate (with worlds systems theorists). Unfortunately, I don’t have any good videos on this topic.

Institutionalist, like Doug North (a former Marxist), have also looked for a transformation before the IR.

And after Kenneth Pomeranz published the Great Divergence, many economic historians began to try to identify more precisely when, where and why modern economic growth began.

Stephen Broadberry has done interesting work in terms of both measurement and explanation
The quality of this video is not particularly good Accounting for Divergence but the paper it is based on is very readable.

See also

 Economic historians now have to explain both The Great Divergence, between East and West, but also little divergences within Europe and Asia.

So what explains these divergences. Two popular answers are institutions and ideas. A lot of these arguments are really matters of emphasis. Most of the people listed below are interested in both. 
Despite what Deirdre McCloskey might tell you, I can assure you that Doug thought that ideas and beliefs matter. The first two books I remember him telling me I had to read were Berger and Luckmann’s Social Construction of Reality and Alan MacFarlane’s Origins of English Individualism. 
Sometimes it is not too clear what the difference between ideas and institutions are. Nevertheless, some emphasize one while others emphasize the other.

So here are some videos emphasizing the role of institutions
Douglass North The Natural State
There are a lot of videos of Doug, but this one reflects the work he was doing with Barry Weingast and John Wallis. I also like this interview that Timur Kuran did with him.

This is a short video with Sheilagh Ogilvie. You can also check out this paper with A.W. Carus on Institutions and Economic Growth

See also (parts of some of these may be a little difficult for non-economists to follow, but stick with it and you will get the main ideas)

Here are some emphasizing the role of ideas
Joel Mokyr Culture of Growth

See also
Anton Howes on the Ideology of Innovation from about 15:00 to 35:00

If those don’t work for you maybe you want to consider this

Finally, you could just watch this entire course on World Economic History with Greg Clark

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Some Recent Economic History of Slavery

Trevon Logan and Caitlin Rosenthal jointly gave the Chandler Lecture at University of North Carolina, The video of the Lecture is now available.

You might also want to watch Caitlin Rosenthal on Slavery’s Scientific Management: Quantification on Plantations. 

I have only had a chance to read the Introduction. Wright is primarily a financial historian, but he appears to have been drawn into the history of slavery through his concern with the continued existence of unfree labor around the world today. He argues that the overall effect of slavery on economic growth is negative because it creates negative externalities. I tend to agree with his argument in regard to the United States, the case that I am most familiar with. The available evidence is consistent with long term negative impact of slavery. Slavery has been associated with both lower levels of investment in public goods, like infrastructure and education, and lower levels of innovation (see for instance Majewski in the recent Slavery’s Capitalism. It is also possible that the distribution of income was less conducive to the development of industry.

I will mention there were a couple of things that I thought were peculiar in the Introduction. First, although he criticizes Edward Baptist’s views on slavery and economic growth, Wright refers to Baptist’s “otherwise excellent The Half Has Never Been Told.” There is really nothing excellent in the book. Olmstead and Rhode (use google scholar to find their working paper on Cotton, Slavery, and the New History of Capitalism) and Trevor Burnard showed that Baptist handles narrative evidence as poorly as he does quantitative evidence, economic concepts and basic logic. On a related note, Wright appears to cite the Roundtable on the Half Has Never Been Told in the Journal of Economic History as anonymous even though each of the reviews clearly identifies the author. Nevertheless, I look forward to reading the rest of Wright’s book when I have more time.

Seth Rockman retweeted to me the link to the paper When Wealth Encourages Individuals to Fight: Evidence From the American Civil War by  Hall, Huff and Kuirwaki. They use the Cherokee land lotteries to try to determine whether, other things equal, slave holding made someone more likely to fight in the Civil War. After the Yazoo Land scandal, which led to the famous decision in Fletcher v. Peck, Georgia used a lottery to distribute land, including that was taken from the Cherokee. The Cherokee land lottery in 1832, provided a large wealth shock to a random sample of Georgia citizens. Much of this increase in wealth appears to have ended up as investment in slavery. The authors conclude that men from households with slaves enlisted at higher rates than those in households without slaves (though majority of soldiers came from families that did not own slaves). Their work is generally consistent with the work done by Hoyt Bleakley and Joseph Ferrie on the long term effects of the wealth shock. At the end of the paper they seemed to have made a reasonable case that an individual with more slave wealth would be more likely to choose to enlist, but it was still not clear to me why an individual with more slave wealth would be more likely to choose to enlist. Why not choose to freeride? An individual’s enlistment did nothing to make his property more secure. It would have required an incredible amount of hubris to believe that one’s individual participation in the war was going to affect the outcome of the war. In what way did individuals expect to benefit from enlistment? Was it because they were more likely to support slavery ideologically? Were there other potential benefits in terms of prestige or possibly political advancement? Did they need the cash more than those who had not purchased slaves?

On a related note, Georgia seems to have done more than its share to create experiments for economic historians. I recently mentioned a paper on the long term negative consequences of slavery in Georgia by Tyler Beck Goodspeed.

And James Feigenbaum, James Lee and Flippo Mezzanotti use the destruction caused by Sherman’s March to examine the long run effects of capital and infrastructure destruction. They find that “both agricultural and manufacturing output fell relatively more from 1860 to 1870 and 1880 in Sherman counties compared to non-Sherman counties in the same state. These relative declines do not appear to be driven by differential out-migration, demographic patterns, or long-lasting infrastructure destruction. Instead, by collecting new historical data on local banks, we show that damage to credit markets was more severe in march counties and that these financial disruptions can help explain the larger declines in economic output.”

Summer Camps for Economic and Business History Students


University of Warwick, 11-15 July 2017
Organisers: Stephen Broadberry and Alexander Klein 
The Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE) at the University of Warwick and the European Historical Economics Society (EHES) are joining together to provide a Summer School, to be held at the University of Warwick, 11-15 July 2017. The theme of the Summer School will be geography, institutions and economic growth in history. The aim is to evaluate geography and institutions as competing explanations of growth performance over the long run. The focus in the geography section of the Summer School will be on the new economic geography, exploring the sources of agglomeration economies and the long run effects of market potential on economic outcomes in the world economy. The institutions part will focus on both the theoretical framework of new institutional economics and the role of state capacity and constraints on the exercise of arbitrary power in particular economies covering Asia as well as Europe. The Summer School is intended mainly for PhD students and early postdoctoral researchers in economic history. The morning sessions will consist of keynote lectures by Nick Crafts (Warwick) and Sheilagh Ogilvie (Cambridge), with additional lectures by distinguished speakers including Kerstin Enflo (Lund), James Foreman-Peck (Cardiff), Walker Hanlon (UCLA), Joan Roses (LSE), and Nikolaus Wolf (Berlin). The afternoon sessions will consist of presentations by students and postdocs, with feedback from the lecturers and other participants. Presentations can be on any aspect of economic history. 
Accommodation and meals will be provided free of charge and economy only travel expenses up to £250 will also be covered. Applications to attend the Summer School should be sent to Jane Snape at:Jane.Snape@warwick.ac.uk by 23 April 2017.
Please include the following:
(1) A short CV (maximum one-page) indicating your contact details and university level        education
(2) Contact details for your supervisor, who will be asked to provide a supporting statement
(3) A short abstract (maximum 500 words) of the research that you would like to present
Notification of acceptance will be sent out by 11 May 2017.

Call for Papers: University of Tübingen PhD Summer School Business beyond Businesses: Agency, Political Economy & Investors, c.1850-1970

20-22 September 2017, Tübingen, Germany.
The University of Tübingen as part of its Institutional Strategy (ZUK 63) has made available funding for an intensive three-day event aimed at PhD students in business or economic history or affiliated fields working on any topic which overlaps with the theme of the school (for more details, see below). Students will be hosted in the historic town of Tübingen, and will present, debate and discuss their work-in-progress with leading international scholars within a world-class university. The school aims to provide doctoral students with an overview of relevant research and innovative tools and methodologies in the field in order to sharpen their own research skills. It is organised jointly by the Seminar für Neuere Geschichte (Tübingen) and the Centre for Business History in Scotland (University of Glasgow).
The school will take the form of presentations from students (c.25 minutes) and workshops hosted by established experts in the field. The aims of the school are: 1) To deepen students’ understanding of current themes in historical research (and how this can inform their own work). 2) To enhance research skills through masterclasses on methods for researching and writing history. 3) To explore the main theoretical underpinnings particular to business and economic history. 4) To provide a welcoming and convivial environment in which to discuss their research with leading scholars and peers.
Students will benefit from the experience of academics from Tübingen and beyond. Our keynote speaker will be Professor Phil Scranton, of Rutgers University (USA), a world-renowned scholar who has produced numerous books and articles on many different aspects of modern business and technology. Other confirmed participants include Professor Patrick Fridenson (EHESS, France), Professor Ewald Frie (Tübingen), Dr Daniel Menning (Tübingen), and Dr Christopher Miller (Glasgow).
Funding will cover flights and/or trains (up to an agreed limit), accommodation, lunches, and the conference meal for up to ten students. A further ten will be eligible to receive part-funding. There may also be limited space left-over for those wishing to fully self-fund (or have received funding from their own institution). Those interested in attending the summer school should send the documents listed below by e-mail to the organisers Dr Daniel Menning (Daniel.Menning@uni-tuebingen.de) and Dr Christopher Miller (Christopher.Miller@glasgow.ac.uk). The deadline for applications is 8 May 2017. A maximum of 20 funded applicants will be selected and notified shortly afterwards. 1) a brief CV (max two pages) 2) a summary of their PhD (max two pages); 3) a title/abstract for their desired presentation topic (max one page). This should incorporate one or more major themes of the student’s PhD. 4) (desirable) an example of work in progress, e.g. a draft chapter, article, working paper (preferably in English, German or French – though all presentations and discussions will be in English).
Further Notes for Applicants:
Overview of scope and aims of school:
(This overview is a guide only. Students working on similar topics to those listed below are encouraged to speak to Daniel Menning and/or Christopher Miller in the first instance)
Business history and economic history have been distinct disciplines, separate from both economics and organizational studies, for over three-quarters of a century. They have developed a rich and varied historiography that has helped to answer and contextualize some of the largest questions of the last two centuries. These include explaining rapid technological changes of the industrial and information ages, the globalization of financial and production markets, and, not least, the rise of Capitalism itself. However, recent trends have in some cases deepened the divide with ‘traditional’ history and historiography. For instance, business history has often found its natural home in business schools rather than history departments, while economic history is increasingly undertaken in a highly quantitative manner in economics, rather than history, faculties. However, while much work remains to be done to redress the balance, new approaches from historians are starting to re-bridge the divide. We believe historians engaged in archival research have much to offer business and economic topics, and it is work in this area that this summer school intends to foster.
More particularly, the school will examine one of the major ‘problems’ prevalent in the existing literature. Simply put, the firm – that is the company or organization itself – has been the unit of assessment most prevalent in business and economic historiography, matched only by overviews of national economies or government policies. Many historians, economists and business scholars have made their careers explaining the rise (and fall) of major corporations, or the successes and failures of a nation’s economy or core industries. However, while these studies have been immensely valuable, such narratives of success and/or failure have missed, or not yet fully developed, important nuances as a result.
We have identified two major issues such nation or firm-specific studies fail to capture, and have broken them down as follows:
1. Business people regularly move between firms, but they also move into, influence, or create, organizations outside the world of private profit-seeking business. These can be linked to politics, government, the military, education, health care and the environment, philanthropy, promotion of trade, and/or other pursuits. Their work can transcend state, national, and continental boundaries, and can influence entire economic systems. For example, businessmen have advised military production ministries in Britain during (and between) both World Wars; business leaders collaborated with municipal authorities on measures to reduce smoke pollution in 19th century Chicago; and in more recent times have changed the face of private higher education with multi-million dollar donations to their Alma Mater, and indirectly have aided the rise of the modern ‘Business School’ itself. Thus, businessmen seek to influence – though not always for private profit – the world that their businesses operate in, and this has not often been captured in existing studies of firms or economies.
2. Similarly, businesses are not only influenced by the acumen of their managers, by the general state of the economy or by governmental regulation. With the creation of joint-stock companies, external private investors entered the field of business, for various reasons and with myriad motives. Some desired to achieve a permanent stream of income. These investors’ sentiments became a force that was hard to ignore, as witnessed during stock market bubbles in England, France and the Netherlands as early as the 18th century. Technological (and legal) changes after 1860 accelerated these processes. Some new investors entered the market simply for the thrill and/or for the financial gains possible by means of speculation, perhaps with little or no interest in the businesses at all. Nevertheless, this group, often already wealthy and influential, helped create more volatile markets, and caused unease among politicians and business people in the process. Moreover, when such individuals were left as losers following the bursting of the bubbles they helped create, their complaints were loud and public. In short, the role of speculation and the attempts to define or limit what kind of investors should be allowed to enter this world (and, thus,
the world of business) are also important in understanding the environment beyond the boundary of the firm or nation that businesses operated in.
Furthermore, while these problems are not completely unique to the modern world, they acquired greater significance from the second-half of the 19th century. The second-wave of industrialization after 1850 (primarily in Britain, Germany, Japan and America) gave birth to larger corporations and professional management structures, which gradually diminished the role of wholly family-owned and/or operated firms. In their place, joint stock firms further proliferated with some (such as General Motors) growing and transitioning to multi-divisional and multi-national conglomerates by the 1930s. In turn, this allowed for the rise in the wealth and influence of professional business magnates such as Charles Schwab (Bethlehem Steel), Alfred Sloan (GM), and others. Simultaneously, technological advances in communication and technology – from the telegraph to the ticker tape – allowed real-time transactions and completely transformed stock market speculation, increasing the number of willing participants and tradable shares dramatically. As such, the cases of business going beyond the firm or the national boundary multiplied dramatically from this point, and offer up myriad exciting avenues for historical research.
Similarly, though in recent times we understand well the nature of a ‘globalized’ world in which firms and agents transcend company or national boundaries, the term itself has its roots in the 1970s. The vast increase in computing power and the equally dramatic decrease in the cost of aviation in the last forty or so years means we could reasonably understand this later period as an era unto itself, in much the way the transformation of firms and speculation was a century earlier. For these reasons, the summer school plans to concentrate on this particularly volatile century or so of change, and would invite papers from PhD students working on business and economic topics broadly defined from roughly 1850 to 1970.
To aid interested students, some of the specific questions to be addressed in global, national, regional, and comparative contexts might include the following:
• What constitutes entrepreneurship, innovation or efficiency outside the context of the private profit-seeking firm?
• How did business people moving into other organizations change their ways of doing things, and vice versa? How did they attain (and retain) influence, and have these movements changed over time?
• How have business people and their behavior and attitudes affected the structures and practices of other organizations or politics?
• How have the interrelationships between business and other organizations affected the structures, strategies, and practices of the firm?
• How do business leaders use nonprofit-making activities outside the firm to advance their own entrepreneurial activity through measures to create good will? What impact have charitable donations from business had on technologic or scientific development?
• Are some national or regional governance structures, business networks, more conducive than others to fostering movement and mutual learning between business and organizations than others, and, if so, why?
• How did politicians and businessmen deal with the influence of investors on businesses?
• What were the attitudes in business, government and society towards speculation for pure gain and how did these change over time?
• How were investors with limited or no knowledge in the world of business supposed to survive or, better even, win money in the world of the stock exchange?
• How did technology affect the ability of people to get involved in the world of business?

In sum, this school will on one level explore the interrelationships between business practice/entrepreneurs and the actors, organizations, and institutions of the broader social and political environment. On another, it will study the influence of ‘outsiders’ upon the wider economy and society, both by means of speculation on the business world and by the reactions of governments and business community to their actions. These are very large and important questions which are only

slowly beginning to be tackled by historians, and our hope is that the summer school will help to map out and better understand spheres of business beyond the national economies or particular firms, to the benefit not only of history students, but to show why and how history can benefit the kinds of studies that have hitherto taken place mainly in economics faculties or business schools.