Friday, December 3, 2010

North Conference

The Center for New Insitutional Social Science at Washington University has videos from the conference honoring Doug North.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Forbes profile of Alvin Roth presents him as Un-Freakonomics.
"In contrast with the authors of bestselling books like Freakonomics, who are fascinated by obscure but intriguing questions like how to detect cheating by sumo wrestlers, Roth relishes real-world challenges." Much of Freakonomics was about crime and education, hardly obscure issues. I liked that Freakonomics presented economists as people who do research to try to find the answers to questions.
The problem with Freakonomics is the marketing, which was successful but dishonest. Graduating from MIT, teaching at Chicago, winning the John Bates Clark Medal, and publishing in top journals are not indicators that one has gone rogue. Exaggerting the novelty of Freakonomics does a disservice to people like Gary Becker, Douglass North and Roger Miller (who tried to sell a version of The Economics of Public Issues under the title of Abortion, Baseball and Weed), Dick McKenzie and Gordon Tullock, and many others.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Neglected Field of Economic History?

This is the title of a forum in the latest issue of Historically Speaking, with contributions from Robert Whaples, Deirdre McCloskey, Werner Troesken, Phil Hoffman, and Joel Mokyr.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Shaping the American Economy

The June issue of the Gilder Lehrman Institute's online journal History Now focuses on American economic history with essays byJoyce Appleby, Richard Sylla, Brian Murphy, Roger Farmer, and T.J. Stiles.

Friday, July 16, 2010

What I'm Reading

Peter Rousseau "The Market For Bank Stocks and the Rise of Deposit Banking in New York City, 1866-1897" NBER Working Paper 15770

Although not traded as actively on the New York Stock Exchange as they had been in the past, the over-the-counter market for these securities was efficient and the local newspapers quoted bank stock prices on a regular basis. The prices revealed in this market became reliable sources of information about the soundness of these institutions. Most important,
ordinary depositors – mostly those not actually investing in bank stocks – used this information to choose among the options for placing their savings. It is in this way that the market for bank stocks in New York contributed to increased public confidence in the banking system and the observed rise in deposits.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Doug North

The Center for New Institutional Social Sciences at Washington University has posted videos of Doug North talking about his most recent book Violence and Social Orders (Doug North, John Walllis and Barry Weingast)

Oliver Evans Mill

In the 1780s Oliver Evans created a fully automated flour mill. He obtained patent no. 3 for it. George Washington had the system installed in his gristmill at Mount Vernon. The Mill has been resotred and is now the only fully operational Oliver Evans mill (or at least thats what they say at Mount Vernon). For any one interested in economic history it is an amazing sight. You have to go on the week end though; thats when they grind wheat. During the week they grind corn, and that process is not fully automated. You can visit the mill and the distillery without visiting home and plantation.