Author Archives: pseudoerasmus

About pseudoerasmus

www.pseudoerasmus.com

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 , , , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

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

The “Hobson-Lenin Thesis”: Inequality, Imperialism, and the First World 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 John A. … Continue reading

Posted in Branko Milanovic, Foreign Investment, Inequality, the First Globalization, The First World War | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 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 societies gone beyond personal … Continue reading

Posted in Cultural Evolution, Institutions, Political Economy, Social & Civic Capital, Social Evolution | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 45 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, Institutions, Social Evolution | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 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 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

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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 , , , | 14 Comments