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Economic History

Interests, Ideas, and Institutions in Historical Perspective

The repeal of Britain's Corn Laws in 1846—one of the most important economic policy decisions of the nineteenth century—has long intrigued and puzzled political scientists, historians, and economists. Why would a Conservative prime minister act against his own party's interests?

Eli Heckscher (1879-1952) is celebrated for his contributions to international trade theory, particularly the factor proportions theory of comparative advantage in international trade known as the Heckscher-Ohlin theory. His work in both economic theory and economic history is notable for combining theoretical insights with a profound knowledge of economic history and the history of economic thought. In this volume, leading international economists assess the importance of Heckscher's work and its relevance to the contemporary practice of economic history.

In Globalization and the Poor Periphery before 1950 Jeffrey Williamson examines globalization through the lens of both the economist and the historian, analyzing its economic impact on industrially lagging poor countries in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Two Centuries of Policy and Performance

World mass migration began in the early nineteenth century, when advances in transportation technology and industrial revolutions at home enabled increasing numbers of people to set off for other parts of the globe in search of a better life. Two centuries later, there is no distant African, Asian, or Latin American village that is not within reach of some high-wage OECD labor market. This book is the first comprehensive economic assessment of world mass migration taking a long-run historical perspective, including north-north, south-south, and south-north migrations.

Mortality and Living Standards in Europe and Asia, 1700-1900

This highly original book—the first in a series analyzing historical population behavior in Europe and Asia—pioneers a new approach to the comparative analysis of societies in the past. Using techniques of event history analysis, the authors examine 100,000 life histories in 100 rural communities in Western Europe and Asia to analyze the demographic response to social and economic pressures.

The Road to the Future

In this book Takeo Hoshi and Anil Kashyap examine the history of the Japanese financial system, from its nineteenth-century beginnings through the collapse of the 1990s that concluded with sweeping reforms. Combining financial theory with new data and original case studies, they show why the Japanese financial system developed as it did and how its history affects its ongoing evolution.

What Can Economists Know?

The world of economics is a complicated and messy place. Yet modern economic analysis rests on an attempt to represent the world by means of simple mathematical models. To what extent is this possible? How can such a program cope with the fact that economic outcomes are often driven by factors that are notoriously difficult to quantify? Can such mathematical modeling lead us to theories that work?

The Fundamentals of Early Manias

The jargon of economics and finance contains numerous colorful terms for market-asset prices at odds with any reasonable economic explanation. Examples include "bubble," "tulipmania," "chain letter," "Ponzi scheme," "panic," "crash," "herding," and "irrational exuberance." Although such a term suggests that an event is inexplicably crowd-driven, what it really means, claims Peter Garber, is that we have grasped a near-empty explanation rather than expend the effort to understand the event.

Old Ideas and New Tools

The "oligopoly problem"—the question of how prices are formed when the market contains only a few competitors—is one of the more persistent problems in the history of economic thought. In this book Xavier Vives applies a modern game-theoretic approach to develop a theory of oligopoly pricing.

Financial systems are crucial to the allocation of resources in a modern economy. They channel household savings to the corporate sector and allocate investment funds among firms; they allow intertemporal smoothing of consumption by households and expenditures by firms; and they enable households and firms to share risks. These functions are common to the financial systems of most developed economies. Yet the form of these financial systems varies widely. Why do different countries have such different financial systems? Is one system better than all the others?