Monday, May 23, 2016

Random Economic History Stuff

1. I will be in Montreal this week at the meeting of the Economic and Business History Society. Here is the program. I’ll be presenting a paper on “Trust Company Failures in New York State, 1875-1925.”

Despite what appeared to be lax regulation and rapid growth, trust companies rarely failed. These few failures, however, provide a path to understanding the overall success of trust companies in New York in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Failures played a disproportionate role in shaping the rules and regulations that governed trust companies, and the resolution of each failure provided additional information about how the laws and regulations would be implemented. These failures shed light on issues of corporate governance and financial stability that are still relevant today.

2. This blog made the Intelligent Economist’s list of The Top 100 Economics Blogs of 2016.
Anton Howe’s Capitalism’s Cradle is another economic history focused blog on the list.

3. Pseudoerasmus' blog, which should also be on the list, has some new posts: Did Inequality Cause the First World War?; Inequality and the First Globalization, and Economic History Readings

4. By the way, for those of you who do not know, Pseudoerasmus is the name of a person who blogs and tweets, mostly about economic history and development. Most people seem to assume that that Pseudoerasmus is a pseudonym. Consequently, some people refer to him as an anonymous blogger.
He recently contributed to discussion about the history of capitalism at the Junto and published a long blogpost about the Lenin-Hobson theory of World War I as it appears in Branko Milanovic’s recent book.
Richard Drayton argued with Pseudoerasmus in the comments section over at the Junto. Drayton concluded his part of the exchange with the following:

I’m rather intrigued by a chap, and there’s too much chap coming out of your prose for me to go for gender neutral pronoun, who spends so much of his time writing aggressive anonymous critiques of — and these are only the ones I’ve noticed — David Armitage, Steve Pincus, Ed Baptist, Sven Beckert. These are, or have become, high profile figures, who have produced substantial original work which has been widely received and even often forcefully and critically responded to. Why not publish these pieces with your name behind it? It begins to look rather mean spirited, even envious, and as if you are afraid to defend your position in public, or afraid that somehow whoever you are would diminish the respect with which your opinions are received?

I, on the other hand, am intrigued by a chap who seems so much more concerned with who people are than with what they have to say. The last line is the most intriguing.  Are you “afraid that somehow whoever you are would diminish the respect with which your opinions are received?” What does that mean? Are we absolved from considering the logic and evidence that someone presents if they are not a high profile figure? Or, perhaps he just takes the same approach to argument  that people like Baptist and Cowie do. All you have to do is note that someone is an economist (or a sociologist in the case of John Clegg) before dismissing their argument.

Milanovic’s response to the blogpost by Pseudoerasmus challenging his interpretation of the cause of World War I was to retweet it.

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