Monday, December 21, 2015

Since My Last Post

The end of the semester has kept me away from this blog for a while. Once grading was done, Mary and I went up to Mercatus to see Eric Chaney present his research on “Religion and the rise and Fall of Islamic Science” at the Washington Area Economic History Seminar. Here is the version of the paper available on his page at Harvard.

We also went up to Philadelphia for a couple of days. We had dinner at our favorite restaurant, Pumpkin, and at Fork, which was also very good. While I’m at it, we usually stay at the Palomar and have breakfast at Schlesinger’s

Also went to the Art Museum this is my favorite thing there.

In the world of economic history

There is a new Chinese Economic History blog. Among other things, it has a number of interesting interviews.

In addition to the usual collection of interesting papers Journal of Economic History has four essays on the future of economic history.

Bakker, Crafts and Woltjer put out a new working paper  “A vision of the Growth Process in a Technologically Progressive Economy: the United States, 1899-1941.”

We develop new aggregate and sectoral Total Factor Productivity (T FP ) estimates for the United States between 1899 and1941 through better coverage of sectors and better measured labor quality, and show TFP –growth was lower than previously thought, broadly based a cross sectors, strongly variant intertemporally, and consistent with many diverse sources of innovation. We then test and reject three prominent claims. First, the 1930s did not have the highest TFP –growth of the twentieth century. Second, TFP –growth was not predominantly caused by four leading sectors. Third, TFP –growth was not caused by a ‘yeast process’ originating in a dominant technology such as electricity.”

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Historians on Edward Baptist

Al Zambone and Bob Elder discuss the book on the podcast Historically Thinking.

Trevor Burnard discusses Baptist’s responses to his critics. Burnard writes that “repeatedly, Baptist puts himself up as the authority on slave testimony; places himself as the judge of what is contained in slave testimony, and suggests that all of his critics are deficient because they don’t take slave testimony as seriously as he does.”

I tried to explain Baptist’s position to someone by pointing out that he seems to believe he speaks for the enslaved the way the Lorax speaks for the trees. The only difference is that the trees did not speak, the enslaved did.