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Economic History

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Marriage in Europe and Asia, 1700-1900

Since Malthus, an East–West dichotomy has been used to characterize marriage behavior in Asia and Europe. Marriages in Asia were said to be early and universal, in Europe late and non-universal. In Europe, marriages were supposed to be the result of individual choices but, in Asia, decided by families and communities. This book challenges this binary taxonomy of marriage patterns and family systems. Drawing on richer and more nuanced data, the authors compare the interpretations based on aggregate demographic patterns with studies of individual actions in local populations. Doing so, they are able to analyze simultaneously the influence on marriage decisions of individual demographic features, socioeconomic status and composition of the household, and local conditions, and the interactions of these variables. They find differences between East and West but also variation within regions and commonality across regions.

The book studies local populations in Sweden, Belgium, Italy, Japan, and China. Rather than a simple comparison of aggregate marriage patterns, it examines marriage outcomes and determinants of local populations in different countries using similar data and methods. The authors first present the results of comparative analyses of first marriage and remarriage and then offer chapters each of which is devoted to the results from a specific country. Similarity in Difference is the third in a prizewinning series on the demographic history of Eurasia, following Life under Pressure (2004) and Prudence and Pressure (2009), both published by the MIT Press.

Twenty-Three Nobel Economists

Lives of the Laureates offers readers an informal history of modern economic thought as told through autobiographical essays by twenty-three Nobel Prize laureates in Economics. The essays not only provide unique insights into major economic ideas of our time but also shed light on the processes of intellectual discovery and creativity. The accounts are accessible and engaging, achieving clarity without sacrificing inherently difficult content.

This sixth edition adds four recent Nobelists to its pages: Eric Maskin, who illustrates his explanation of mechanism design with an example involving a mother, a cake, and two children; Joseph Stiglitz, who recounts his field’s ideological wars linked to policy disputes; Paul Krugman, who describes the insights he gained from studying the model of the Capitol Hill Babysitting Coop (and the recession it suffered when more people wanted to accumulate babysitting coupons than redeem them); and Peter Diamond, who maps his development from student to teacher to policy analyst.

Lives of the Laureates grows out of a continuing lecture series at Trinity University in San Antonio, which invites Nobelists from American universities to describe their evolution as economists in personal as well as technical terms. These lectures demonstrate the richness and diversity of contemporary economic thought. The reader will find that paths cross in unexpected ways--that disparate thinkers were often influenced by the same teachers—and that luck as well as hard work plays a role in the process of scientific discovery.

The Laureates
Lawrence R. Klein • Kenneth J. Arrow • Paul A. Samuelson • Milton Friedman • George J. Stigler • James Tobin • Franco Modigliani • James M. Buchanan • Robert M. Solow • William F. Sharpe • Douglass C. North • Myron S. Scholes • Gary S. Becker • Robert E. Lucas, Jr. • James J. Heckman • Vernon L. Smith • Edward C. Prescott • Thomas C. Schelling • Edmund S. Phelps • Eric S. Maskin • Joseph E. Stiglitz • Paul Krugman • Peter A. Diamond

Useful Economics for the World Economy

As the global economic crisis continues to cause damage, some policy makers have called for a more Keynesian approach to current economic problems. In this book, the economists Peter Temin and David Vines provide an accessible introduction to Keynesian ideas that connects Keynes’s insights to today’s global economy and offers readers a way to understand current policy debates.

John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946) created the branch of economics now known as macroeconomics. He played a major role in the reconstruction of Europe and the world economy after the Second World War. Keynesian economics came to be identified with efforts to mitigate the Great Depression and with postwar economic policies that helped power a golden age of economic growth. Temin and Vines argue that Keynes also provided a way to understand the interactions among nations, and therein lies his relevance for today’s global crisis.

Temin and Vines survey economic thinking before Keynes and explain how difficult it was for Keynes to escape from conventional wisdom. They set out the Keynesian analysis of a closed economy and expand the analysis to the international economy, using a few simple graphs to present Keynes’s formal analyses in an accessible way. They discuss problems of today’s world economy, showcasing the usefulness of a simple Keynesian approach to current economic policy choices. Keynesian ideas, they argue, can lay the basis for a return to economic growth.

A Long View

It is not so easy to take the long view of socioeconomic history when you are participating in a revolution. For that reason, Russian economist Yegor Gaidar put aside an early version of this work to take up a series of government positions--as Minister of Finance and as Boris Yeltsin’s acting Prime Minister--in the early 1990s. In government, Gaidar shepherded Russia through its transition to a market economy after years of socialism. Once out of government, Gaidar turned again to his consideration of Russia’s economic history and long-term economic and political challenges. This book, revised and updated shortly before his death in 2009, is the result.

Gaidar’s account of long-term socioeconomic trends puts his country in historical context and outlines problems faced by Russia (and other developing economies) that more developed countries have already encountered: aging population, migration, evolution of the system of social protection, changes in the armed forces, and balancing stability and flexibility in democratic institutions.
This is not a memoir, but, Gaidar points out, neither is it “written from the position of a man who spent his entire life in a research institute.” Gaidar’s “long view” is inevitably informed and enriched by his experience in government at a watershed moment in history.

Lawyers, Accountants, and the Tax Shelter Industry

For ten boom-powered years at the turn of the twenty-first century, some of America’s most prominent law and accounting firms created and marketed products that enabled the very rich—including newly minted dot-com millionaires—to avoid paying their fair share of taxes by claiming benefits not recognized by law. These abusive domestic tax shelters bore such exotic names as BOSS, BLIPS, and COBRA and were developed by such prestigious firms as KPMG and Ernst & Young. They brought in hundreds of millions of dollars in fees from clients and bilked the U.S. Treasury of billions in revenues before the IRS and Justice Department stepped in with civil penalties and criminal prosecutions. In Confidence Games, Tanina Rostain and Milton Regan describe the rise and fall of the tax shelter industry during this period, offering a riveting account of the most serious episode of professional misconduct in the history of the American bar.

Rostain and Regan describe a beleaguered IRS preoccupied by attacks from antitax and antigovernment politicians; heightened competition for professional services; the relaxation of tax practitioner norms against aggressive advice; and the creation of complex financial instruments that made abusive shelters harder to detect. By 2004, the tax shelter boom was over, leaving failed firms, disgraced professionals, and prison sentences in its wake. Rostain and Regan’s cautionary tale remains highly relevant today, as lawyers and accountants continue to face intense competitive pressure and regulators still struggle to keep pace with accelerating financial risk and innovation.

Monetary Policy and Its Management, Martin through Greenspan to Bernanke

Stephen Axilrod is the ultimate Federal Reserve insider. He worked at the Fed’s Board of Governors for more than thirty years and after that in private markets and as a consultant on monetary policy. With Inside the Fed, he offers his unique perspective on the inner workings of the Federal Reserve System during the last fifty years. This new, post-financial meltdown edition offers his assessment of the Fed’s action (and inaction) during the crisis and expanded coverage of the Fed in the Bernanke era.

Great leadership in monetary policy, Axilrod says, is determined not by pure economic sophistication but by the ability to push through political and social barriers to achieve a paradigm shift in policy—and by the courage and bureaucratic moxie to pull it off.

When the Third World Fell Behind

Today’s wide economic gap between the postindustrial countries of the West and the poorer countries of the third world is not new. Fifty years ago, the world economic order—two hundred years in the making—was already characterized by a vast difference in per capita income between rich and poor countries and by the fact that poor countries exported commodities (agricultural or mineral products) while rich countries exported manufactured products. In Trade and Poverty, leading economic historian Jeffrey G. Williamson traces the great divergence between the third world and the West to this nexus of trade, commodity specialization, and poverty.

Analyzing the role of specialization, de-industrialization, and commodity price volatility with econometrics and case studies of India, Ottoman Turkey, and Mexico, Williamson demonstrates why the close correlation between trade and poverty emerged. Globalization and the great divergence were causally related, and thus the rise of globalization over the past two centuries helps account for the income gap between rich and poor countries today.

A Worried View of Economics

What happened yesterday in the West is today being repeated on a global scale. Industrial society is replacing rural society: millions of peasants in China, India, and elsewhere are leaving the countryside and going to the city. New powers are emerging and rivalries are exacerbated as competition increases for control of raw materials. Contrary to what believers in the “clash of civilizations” maintain, the great risk of the twenty-first century is not a confrontation between cultures but a repetition of history. In The Prosperity of Vice, the influential French economist Daniel Cohen shows that violence, rather than peace, has been the historical accompaniment to prosperity. Peace in Europe came only after the barbaric wars of the twentieth century, not as the outcome of economic growth. What will happen this time for today’s eagerly Westernizing emerging nations?

Cohen guides us through history, describing the European discovery of the “philosopher’s stone”: the possibility of perpetual growth. But the consequences of addiction to growth are dire in an era of globalization. If a billion Chinese consume a billion cars, the future of the planet is threatened. But, Cohen points out, there is another kind of globalization: the immaterial globalization enabled by the Internet. It is still possible, he argues, that the cyber-world will create a new awareness of global solidarity. It even may help us accomplish a formidable cognitive task, as immense as that realized during the Industrial Revolution--one that would allow us learn to live within the limits of a solitary planet.

The U.S. Treasury Securities Market from the Great War to the Great Depression

The market for U.S. Treasury securities is a marvel of modern finance. In 2009 the Treasury auctioned $8.2 trillion of new securities, ranging from 4-day bills to 30-year bonds, in 283 offerings on 171 different days. By contrast, in the decade before World War I, there was only about $1 billion of interest-bearing Treasury debt outstanding, spread out over just six issues. New offerings were rare, and the debt was narrowly held, most of it owned by national banks. In Birth of a Market, Kenneth Garbade traces the development of the Treasury market from a financial backwater in the years before World War I to a multibillion dollar market on the eve of World War II.
Garbade focuses on Treasury debt management policies, describing the origins of several pillars of modern Treasury practice, including “regular and predictable” auction offerings and the integration of debt and cash management. He recounts the actions of Secretaries of the Treasury, from William McAdoo in the Wilson administration to Henry Morgenthau in the Roosevelt administration, and their responses to economic conditions. Garbade’s account covers the Treasury market in the two decades before World War I, how the Treasury financed the Great War, how it managed the postwar refinancing and paydowns, and how it financed the chronic deficits of the Great Depression. He concludes with an examination of aspects of modern Treasury debt management that grew out of developments from 1917 to 1939.

Lessons from the 1930s

The recent economic crisis--with the plunge in the stock market, numerous bank failures and widespread financial distress, declining output and rising unemployment--has been reminiscent of the Great Depression. The Depression of the 1930s was marked by the spread of protectionist trade policies, which contributed to a collapse in world trade. Although policymakers today claim that they will resist the protectionist temptation, recessions are breeding grounds for economic nationalism, and countries may yet consider imposing higher trade barriers. In Trade Policy Disaster, Douglas Irwin examines what we know about trade policy during the traumatic decade of the 1930s and considers what we can learn from the policy missteps of the time.
Irwin argues that the extreme protectionism of the 1930s emerged as a consequence of policymakers’ reluctance to abandon the gold standard and allow their currencies to depreciate. By ruling out exchange rate changes as an adjustment mechanism, policymakers turned instead to higher tariffs and other means of restricting imports. He offers a clear and concise exposition of such topics as the effect of higher trade barriers on the implosion of world trade; the impact of the Smoot-Hawley tariff of 1930; the reasons some countries adopted draconian trade restrictions (including exchange controls and import quotas) but others did not; the effect of preferential trade arrangements and bilateral clearing agreements on the multilateral system of world trade; and lessons for avoiding future trade wars.

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