Author Archives: pseudoerasmus

About pseudoerasmus

www.pseudoerasmus.com

Economic History Papers, Articles & Blogs

As a companion to my Economic History books page, which stresses economic history by region or country, I have created a new Economic History Papers page. It collects surveys, papers, and blogs which cover topics in global economic history and comparative historical development. But it’s … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

More frivolously assembled lists of books

Kind of sort of a follow-up to the previous book list.

Posted in books | 9 Comments

The 25 most stimulating economic history books since 2000

Inspired by Vincent Geloso, here is a list of the 25 books in economic history published since 2000 which I have found most stimulating or provocative. Not the best, nor the most ‘correct’, nor the most balanced, but those things which influenced, stimulated, … Continue reading

Posted in books, Uncategorized | Tagged | 12 Comments

The Calico Acts: Was British cotton made possible by infant industry protection from Indian competition?

Many “global historians” argue that the British cotton industry was the product of (unintentional) infant industry protection from Indian competition in the 18th century. The various Calico Acts created an import-substitution industry by banning Indian cloths and reserving the home market for British producers. This … Continue reading

Posted in cotton, cotton textiles, import substitution industrialization, industrial policy, Industrial Revolution, Infant industry argument, protectionism, trade & development | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

The Napoleonic blockade & the infant industry argument: caveats, limitations, reservations

Some caveats and reservations about the Napoleonic blockade paper on the infant industry argument that’s making waves. My caveat: protection persisted for decades after the blockade and may have helped keep the French cotton industry backward relative to Britain.

Posted in cotton, cotton textiles, France, import substitution industrialization, industrial policy, Industrial Revolution, Infant industry argument, protectionism, trade & development | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Bairoch hypothesis (or the “tariff-growth paradox” of the late 19th century)

{ Note: This post describes and summarises a literature on 19th century growth & trade. I do not necessarily endorse its findings. This post is intended as largely descriptive. } There is a vast cross-country literature which finds a positive correlation … Continue reading

Posted in economic growth, industrial policy, Infant industry argument, protectionism, trade & development | Tagged , , , , , | 15 Comments

Tariff Protection of British cotton 1774-1820s

British Tariff Protection after 1774: Competition, Innovation, & Misallocation, plus a note on Weaving This is an addendum to a post about the Calico Acts, which had prohibited within Britain the consumption of cotton cloths both foreign and domestic. But even after … Continue reading

Posted in cotton, cotton textiles, industrial policy, Industrial Revolution, Infant industry argument, international trade, protectionism, trade & development | 1 Comment

Random thoughts on critiques of Allen’s theory of the Industrial Revolution

{ This post is mostly stringing together my scattered tweets over the past couple of weeks. I’ve had numerous discussions on this subject with Vincent Geloso, Judy Stephenson, Ben Schneider, Benjamin Guilbert, Anton Howes, and Mark Koyama. But yesterday Geloso … Continue reading

Posted in Industrial Revolution, Robert Allen | Tagged , , , , , | 23 Comments

Sven Beckert’s Empire of Cotton: A Reductionist Summary

Historian Sven Beckert’s widely acclaimed book, Empire of Cotton: A New History of Global Capitalism, is a good agrarian, business, and labour history of a single commodity. But as economic history it’s not so good.

Posted in cotton, cotton textiles, Empire of Cotton, global history, historians of capitalism, Sven Beckert | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Did inequality cause the First World War? Contra Hobson-Lenin-Milanovic

The “Hobson-Lenin Thesis”: inequality, ‘underconsumption’, capital exports, imperialism, and the Great War In a small section in his new book, Branko Milanovic argues that the First World War was ultimately caused by income & wealth inequality within the belligerent countries, resurrecting ideas from … Continue reading

Posted in Branko Milanovic, Foreign Investment, Inequality, the First Globalization, The First World War | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

The Baptist Question Redux: Emancipation & Cotton Productivity

Edward Baptist, the author of The Half Has Never Been Told, has been claiming since the publication of his book that a putative post-Emancipation drop in overall agricultural productivity in the American South is proof that it was torture, not new cotton cultivars and … Continue reading

Posted in cotton, Edward Baptist, historians of capitalism, Slavery, The Half has never been told | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Where do pro-social institutions come from?

AKA “Cooperation, cultural evolution & economic development”. Where do ‘good’ or pro-social institutions come from ? Why does the capacity for collective action and cooperative behaviour vary so much across the world today ? How do some populations transcend tribalism to form a civil society ? How have some … Continue reading

Posted in Behavioural economics, Cooperation, Cultural Evolution, Institutions, Political Economy, Social & Civic Capital, Social Evolution | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

¿De donde vienen las instituciones prosociales?

[19 October 2015] Jesús Alfaro of the Autonomous University of Madrid has translated my previous post into Spanish: ¿De dónde vienen las instituciones prosociales?

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“Experimenting with Social Norms” in Small-Scale Societies

Social norms, institutions, and economic development. (A companion post to “Where do pro-social institutions come from?”)

Posted in Cultural Evolution, Economic Anthropology, Economic Development, Institutions, Social Evolution | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Educational Romanticism & Economic Development

An elaboration on Ricardo Hausmann’s article “The Education Myth” arguing that education is an overrated tool of economic development. This post also responds to a criticism of Hausmann’s views which appeared at the Spanish group blog Politikon; and also discusses whether developing … Continue reading

Posted in economic growth, Education | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Markets & Famine: Amartya Sen is not the last word !

Whether markets help cause or exacerbate famines is one of the great questions of political economy. Cormac Ó Gráda’s recent book Eating People is Wrong, and Other Essays on Famine, its Past, and its Future, along with his earlier volume, Famine: A Short … Continue reading

Posted in Economic History, Famines | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Anachronism & Relevance in History: a comment on Steve Pincus

Anachronism and relevance are in tension. Historians (often) rail against the former and (often) pine for the latter. They can easily manage a bit of relevance by intervening in today’s political and economic debates and offering ‘lessons’ from the past — but at high risk of … Continue reading

Posted in Economic History | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Did the “Invisible Blockade” against Allende’s Chile work?

Did an “invisible blockade” by the United States fatally undermine the Chilean economy under the presidency of Salvador Allende (1970-73)? Did it actually work? Short answer: No.

Posted in Chile, Political Economy | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Nazi political economy

My previous post about the political orientation of fascists got a response from Jonah Goldberg, the author of Liberal Fascism. This is my brief response to his.

Posted in fascism, Political Economy | Tagged , , , , , | 61 Comments

Fascism was not left-wing !!!

John Holbo at Crooked Timber reprises a debate which raged 7 years ago when a book called Liberal Fascism was published. His take focuses on Germany but mine puts more weight on Italy. I think the issue is kind of obvious, but it’s … Continue reading

Posted in fascism, Political Economy | Tagged , , , , , , | 51 Comments

McCloskey: Cotton wasn’t crucial to the Industrial Revolution

I (mostly) copy-and-paste Deirdre McCloskey’s argument that cotton was not crucial to the Industrial Revolution in Britain. I also have a very brief rant about historians’ erasure of Robert Fogel from historiographic memory.

Posted in cotton, cotton textiles, great divergence, historians of capitalism, Industrial Revolution, Slavery | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Chile’s First Globalisation: Inequality, Frontier Expansion, and Immigration

This is a translation-reblog of the post by historian Javier Rodríguez Weber, “Globalisation and Inequality, for a ‘sophisticated’ version of the neoclassical intepretation” (original: “Globalización y Desigualdad. Por una versión ‘sofisticada’ de la interpretación neoclásica”). It shows how Chile’s income … Continue reading

Posted in Chile, Economic History, Inequality | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Errata dentata: The History Manifesto Revisited

This post, a follow-up to my earlier posts “La longue purée” and “Jo Guldi’s Curiouser & Curiouser Footnotes“, examines the recent revisions made to The History Manifesto. Warning: the post may be tedious. For die-hards only.

Posted in Environmental Economics, History Manifesto | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Ian Morris’s calculations about the ancient Greek economy

Addenda to the previous blogpost “Economic growth in ancient Greece“. I argue that certain estimates made by Ian Morris under-compute the implied growth rates in the “per capita income” of the ancient Greeks. With a proper computation Morris’s estimates simply become … Continue reading

Posted in ancient economic history, Ancient Greece, Economic History | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

Economic Growth in Ancient Greece

Was there “intensive growth” in Classical Greece and was there something special about its causes ? Was it due to “inclusive institutions” ? This post examines some claims of the “New Ancient History”.

Posted in ancient economic history, Ancient Greece, Economic History | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Toponyms & Ethnonyms: a brief ramble

Rambling about toponyms and ethnonyms in various languages.

Posted in Languages | 9 Comments

Greece from Postwar Orthodoxy to “Democratic Peronism”

The roots of the present Greek crisis lie in the political transformation of the country during the 1980s. (Disclaimer: Although this post is about Greek fiscal behaviour, I am not taking Germany’s side. Lenders to the profligate are just as culpable as the borrowers.)

Posted in Financial Crises, Greece, Political Economy | 22 Comments

Economic History Link Dump 15-01-2015

A haphazard mass, a chaotic carnival, a Bikini Atoll, of links relating to economic history, political economy, and allied matters. I also have brief comments on some of the links.

Posted in Economic History, Links | 11 Comments

State Capacity & the Sino-Japanese Divergence

Why China did not industrialise before Western Europe may be a tantalising and irresistible subject, but frankly it’s a parlour game. What remains underexplored, however, is the more tractable issue of why Japan managed, but China failed, to initiate an early transition to modern growth … Continue reading

Posted in China, East Asia, Economic History, Japan | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments

Jo Guldi’s Curiouser & Curiouser Footnotes

In The History Manifesto, historians Jo Guldi, the Hans Rothfels Assistant Professor of History at Brown, and David Armitage, the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History and Chair of the History Department at Harvard, repeatedly misunderstand or misrepresent the research they disparagingly cite in … Continue reading

Posted in Economic History, History Manifesto, Industrial Revolution, Inequality | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

La longue purée

In The History Manifesto, two historians, Jo Guldi of Brown and David Armitage of Harvard, urge their peers to turn away from microhistory and go back to doing Big History in the longue durée tradition of Fernand Braudel. The book also doubles as a rant against the … Continue reading

Posted in Economic History, Environmental Economics, History, History Manifesto, Social Science | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

Was slavery necessary for the Industrial Revolution ?

Did western industrialisation require American slave cotton ? What coal and sugar might tell us. (Short answer: It’s reasonable and plausible to argue slavery accelerated the industrial revolution, but not enabled it. It’s profoundly unreasonable to say the IR could not have happened … Continue reading

Posted in cotton, cotton textiles, global history, historians of capitalism, Industrial Revolution, Slavery | Tagged , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Edward Said on Bernard Lewis

Just quoting my favourite unintentionally hilarious passage from Said’s Orientalism.

Posted in History, Middle East & Islam | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

A horse ! A horse ! My serfdom for a horse !

Part 2, England, of my critique of Nick Szabo’s view of industrialisation. This is continued from Part 1, “Chinese workers were cheaper than English horses“.

Posted in Economic History, great divergence, Industrial Revolution | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Conscientiousness & Technology

From the plastics industry, a very concrete, real-life example of how conscientiousness matters in the use of a medium-level technology and how high(er)-technology might help.

Posted in productivity, Technology | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Piketty & Slave Wealth

A quick note on Piketty, slave-wealth, and US capitalism.

Posted in historians of capitalism, Slavery | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Ye Olde Inæqualitee Shoppe

A quick note : Income inequality in pre-industrial societies was, in general, lower than in modern industrial societies, but traditional agrarian economies tended to be closer to their “maximum feasible inequality” than modern ones.

Posted in Branko Milanovic, Economic History, Income distribution, Inequality | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The emptiness of life will save us from mass unemployment

I don’t I have much to add to the debate about the dystopian robot future scenario envisioned by many people. But I do think the nightmare scenario is less mass unemployment than a kind of revamped neo-mediaevalism. I’m not predicting … Continue reading

Posted in Income distribution, Inequality, Technology | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Global Income Distribution in 20 Charts

The global distribution of income in 1970-2006 in 20 charts. Not much text. Posting the charts because I thought they were neat…

Posted in Income distribution, Inequality | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Baptism by Blood Cotton

The underlying claim in Edward Baptist’s “oral economic history” of slavery, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, is that slave owners, through the scientific “calibration” of torture, intensified the work of slaves in order to increase labour productivity by … Continue reading

Posted in cotton, Edward Baptist, historians of capitalism, Slavery, The Half has never been told | Tagged , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Plant breeding, not working slaves harder, drove cotton productivity gains in the US South

Summary : New cultivars of cotton led to an unprecedented rise in the productivity of US southern cotton in the 60 years before the American Civil War. The Economist magazine may have said some stupid things about the subject in its review of Edward Baptist’s book … Continue reading

Posted in cotton, Edward Baptist, historians of capitalism, Slavery, The Half has never been told | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

“The Great War and Modern Memory”

An excerpt from Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory.

Posted in History, Literary Criticism | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

ελαδιοξιδιολατολαχανοκαρυκευμα

A very brief history of Greek diglossia.

Posted in Ancient Greek, Languages | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Azar Gat’s Nations

I saw Razib Khan‘s review of Azar Gat’s Nations : The Long History and Deep Roots of Political Ethnicity and Nationalism. Without intending to make it that long I posted a 1000-word comment there. Then I realised I could have posted it here.

Posted in Ethnicity, History, Political Development | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Links 18 July 2014

I’m not intending to do “weekly links” or anything, but I wanted to highlight a blogpost by Victor Mair : what the Dungan language sounds like from snippets of the movie “Jesus” dubbed in Dungan. This is the language of Chinese Muslims who fled to … Continue reading

Posted in Links | 6 Comments

שׂבולת שׂמית

Stream-of-consciousness thoughts about why we say “Semitic” even though the root is “Shem”. And, yes, I know the Hebrew letters in the title say “semitic sibboleth” and not “shemitic shibboleth”.

Posted in Ancient Greek, Biblical Hebrew, Languages | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

大東亞共現代性圏

I just noticed Tyler Cowen had blogged a Boston Globe article about the number of loanwords in various languages (is there something from the press Cowen will not blog ?), and his own take was to ask, which major language has the lowest percentage of foreign … Continue reading

Posted in East Asia, Food, Languages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

The Political Economy of US Foreign Policy

Summary : (Part 1 of 4) I critique commenter Matt’s argument that, at the deepest level, American foreign policy has sought a “favourable investment climate” for itself in the Third World.

Posted in Cold War, Foreign Investment, International Relations, U.S. foreign policy | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments