The Italian Enlightenment, no less than the Scottish, was central to the emergence of political economy and creation of market societies. Sophus Reinert turns to Milan in the late 1700s to recover early socialists’ preoccupations with the often lethal tension among states, markets, and human welfare, and the policies these ideas informed.
The clerk attended his desk and counter at the intersection of two great themes of modern historical experience: the development of a market economy and of a society governed from below. Who better illustrates the daily practice and production of this modernity than someone of no particular account assigned with overseeing all the new buying and selling? In Accounting for Capitalism, Michael Zakim has written their story, a social history of capital that seeks to explain how the “bottom line” became a synonym for truth in an age shorn of absolutes, grafted onto our very sense of reason and trust.
This is a big story, told through an ostensibly marginal event: the birth of a class of “merchant clerks” in the United States in the middle of the nineteenth century. The personal trajectory of these young men from farm to metropolis, homestead to boarding house, and, most significantly, from growing things to selling them exemplified the enormous social effort required to domesticate the profit motive and turn it into the practical foundation of civic life. As Zakim reveals in his highly original study, there was nothing natural or preordained about the stunning ascendance of this capitalism and its radical transformation of the relationship between “Man and Mammon.”
Caitlin Rosenthal explores quantitative management practices on West Indian and Southern plantations, showing how planter-capitalists built sophisticated organizations and used complex accounting tools. By demonstrating that business innovation can be a byproduct of bondage Rosenthal further erodes the false boundary between capitalism and slavery.
This book could be called “The Intelligent Person’s Guide to Economics.” Like Robert Heilbroner’s The Worldly Philosophers, it attempts to explain the core ideas of the great economists, beginning with Adam Smith and ending with Joseph Schumpeter. In between are chapters on Thomas Malthus, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, the marginalists, John Maynard Keynes, Friedrich Hayek, and Thorstein Veblen. The title expresses Duncan Foley’s belief that economics at its most abstract and interesting level is a speculative philosophical discourse, not a deductive or inductive science. Adam’s fallacy is the attempt to separate the economic sphere of life, in which the pursuit of self-interest is led by the invisible hand of the market to a socially beneficial outcome, from the rest of social life, in which the pursuit of self-interest is morally problematic and has to be weighed against other ends.
Smith and his successors argued that the market and the division of labor that is fostered by it result in tremendous gains in productivity, which lead to a higher standard of living. Yet the market does not address the problem of distribution—that is, how is the gain in wealth to be divided among the classes and members of society? Nor does it address such problems as the long-run well-being of the planet.
Adam’s Fallacy is beautifully written and contains interesting observations and insights on almost every page. It will engage the reader’s thoughts and feelings on the deepest level.
Colonialism persists in many African countries due to the continuation of imperial monetary policy. This is the little-known account of the CFA Franc and economic imperialism. The CFA Franc was created in 1945, binding fourteen African states and split into two monetary zones. Why did French colonial authorities create it and how does it work? Why was independence not extended to monetary sovereignty for former French colonies? Through an exploration of the genesis of the currency and an examination of how the economic system works, the authors seek to answer these questions and more. As protests against the colonial currency grow, the need for myth-busting on the CFA Franc is vital and this exposé of colonial infrastructure proves that decolonization is unfinished business.
Are Thomas Piketty’s analyses of inequality on target? Where should researchers go from here in exploring the ideas he pushed to the forefront of global conversation? In After Piketty, a cast of economists and other social scientists tackle these questions in dialogue with Piketty, in what is sure to be a much-debated book in its own right.
The past three decades have been characterized by vast change and crises in global financial markets—and not in politically unstable countries but in the heart of the developed world, from the Great Recession in the United States to the banking crises in Japan and the Eurozone. As we try to make sense of what caused these crises and how we might reduce risk factors and prevent recurrence, the fields of finance and economics have also seen vast change, as scholars and researchers have advanced their thinking to better respond to the recent crises.
A momentous collection of the best recent scholarship, After the Flood illustrates both the scope of the crises’ impact on our understanding of global financial markets and the innovative processes whereby scholars have adapted their research to gain a greater understanding of them. Among the contributors are José Scheinkman and Lars Peter Hansen, who bring up to date decades of collaborative research on the mechanisms that tie financial markets to the broader economy; Patrick Bolton, who argues that limiting bankers’ pay may be more effective than limiting the activities they can undertake; Edward Glaeser and Bruce Sacerdote, who study the social dynamics of markets; and E. Glen Weyl, who argues that economists are influenced by the incentives their consulting opportunities create.
Edited by Edward L. Glaeser University of Chicago Press, 2010 Library of Congress HC79.D5A33 2010 | Dewey Decimal 338.87
When firms and people are located near each other in cities and in industrial clusters, they benefit in various ways, including by reducing the costs of exchanging goods and ideas. One might assume that these benefits would become less important as transportation and communication costs fall. Paradoxically, however, cities have become increasingly important, and even within cities industrial clusters remain vital.
Agglomeration Economics brings together a group of essays that examine the reasons why economic activity continues to cluster together despite the falling costs of moving goods and transmitting information. The studies cover a wide range of topics and approach the economics of agglomeration from different angles. Together they advance our understanding of agglomeration and its implications for a globalized world.
American agriculture in the twentieth century has given the world one of its great success stories, a paradigm of productivity and plenty. Yet the story has its dark side, from the plight of the Okies in the 1930s to the farm crisis of the 1980s to today's concerns about low crop prices and the impact of biotechnology. Looking at U.S. farming over the past century, Bruce Gardner searches out explanations for both the remarkable progress and the persistent social problems that have marked the history of American agriculture.
Gardner documents both the economic difficulties that have confronted farmers and the technological and economic transformations that have lifted them from relative poverty to economic parity with the nonfarm population. He provides a detailed analysis of the causes of these trends, with emphasis on the role of government action. He reviews how commodity support programs, driven by interest-group politics, have spent hundreds of billions of dollars to little purpose. Nonetheless, Gardner concludes that by reconciling competing economic interests while fostering productivity growth and economic integration of the farm and nonfarm economies, the overall twentieth-century role of government in American agriculture is fairly viewed as a triumph of democracy.
Overregulated and displaced by barges, trucks, and jet aviation, railroads fell into decline. Their misfortune was measured in lost market share, abandoned track, bankruptcies, and unemployment. Today, rail transportation is reviving. American Railroads tells a riveting story about how this iconic industry managed to turn itself around.
American Tax Resisters
Romain D. Huret Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress HJ2362.H87 2014 | Dewey Decimal 336.200973
American Tax Resisters gives a history of the anti-tax movement that, for the past 150 years, has pursued limited taxes on wealth and battled efforts to secure social justice through income redistribution. It explains how a once-marginal ideology became mainstream, elevating individual entrepreneurialism over sacrifice and solidarity.
For all the recent attention to the slaveholding of the founding fathers, we still know remarkably little about the influence of slavery on American politics. American Taxation, American Slavery tackles this problem in a new way. Rather than parsing the ideological pronouncements of charismatic slaveholders, it examines the concrete policy decisions that slaveholders and non-slaveholders made in the critical realm of taxation. The result is surprising—that the enduring power of antigovernment rhetoric in the United States stems from the nation’s history of slavery rather than its history of liberty.
We are all familiar with the states’ rights arguments of proslavery politicians who wanted to keep the federal government weak and decentralized. But here Robin Einhorn shows the deep, broad, and continuous influence of slavery on this idea in American politics. From the earliest colonial times right up to the Civil War, slaveholding elites feared strong democratic government as a threat to the institution of slavery. American Taxation, American Slavery shows how their heated battles over taxation, the power to tax, and the distribution of tax burdens were rooted not in debates over personal liberty but rather in the rights of slaveholders to hold human beings as property. Along the way, Einhorn exposes the antidemocratic origins of the popular Jeffersonian rhetoric about weak government by showing that governments were actually more democratic—and stronger—where most people were free.
A strikingly original look at the role of slavery in the making of the United States, American Taxation, American Slavery will prove essential to anyone interested in the history of American government and politics.
The Institute for American Values began its work on thrift-—the ethic of wise use—-in 2004, when they were invited to partner with the John Templeton Foundation in a scholarly exploration of thrift as an American value. What they discovered was a forgotten history–but more importantly, IAV’s research uncovered limitless contemporary possibilities in an irreplaceable virtue.
“We see thrift as a comprehensive and transformative lens to inspire and measure the aspirations of more productive, self-reliant, imaginative and resilient—in short thriving—individuals and communities,” says the Institute. “In the area of thrift education, our dream is for every young American to benefit from at least one module of high-quality thrift education before reaching age 18, through a school, library, youth-serving organization, or financial services organization.”
With American Thrift: A Reader, David Blankenhorn and Andrew F. Kline provide a key resource in the pursuit of that goal.
A bold call to reclaim an American tradition that argues the Constitution imposes a duty on government to fight oligarchy and ensure broadly shared wealth.
Oligarchy is a threat to the American republic. When too much economic and political power is concentrated in too few hands, we risk losing the “republican form of government” the Constitution requires. Today, courts enforce the Constitution as if it has almost nothing to say about this threat. But as Joseph Fishkin and William Forbath show in this revolutionary retelling of constitutional history, a commitment to prevent oligarchy once stood at the center of a robust tradition in American political and constitutional thought.
Fishkin and Forbath demonstrate that reformers, legislators, and even judges working in this “democracy of opportunity” tradition understood that the Constitution imposes a duty on legislatures to thwart oligarchy and promote a broad distribution of wealth and political power. These ideas led Jacksonians to fight special economic privileges for the few, Populists to try to break up monopoly power, and Progressives to fight for the constitutional right to form a union. During Reconstruction, Radical Republicans argued in this tradition that racial equality required breaking up the oligarchy of slave power and distributing wealth and opportunity to former slaves and their descendants. President Franklin Roosevelt and the New Dealers built their politics around this tradition, winning the fight against the “economic royalists” and “industrial despots.”
But today, as we enter a new Gilded Age, this tradition in progressive American economic and political thought lies dormant. The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution begins the work of recovering it and exploring its profound implications for our deeply unequal society and badly damaged democracy.
A Turk’s discovery that Armenians once thrived in his hometown leads to a groundbreaking investigation into the local dynamics of genocide.
Ümit Kurt, born and raised in Gaziantep, Turkey, was astonished to learn that his hometown once had a large and active Armenian community. The Armenian presence in Aintab, the city’s name during the Ottoman period, had not only been destroyed—it had been replaced. To every appearance, Gaziantep was a typical Turkish city.
Kurt digs into the details of the Armenian dispossession that produced the homogeneously Turkish city in which he grew up. In particular, he examines the population that gained from ethnic cleansing. Records of land confiscation and population transfer demonstrate just how much new wealth became available when the prosperous Armenians—who were active in manufacturing, agricultural production, and trade—were ejected. Although the official rationale for the removal of the Armenians was that the group posed a threat of rebellion, Kurt shows that the prospect of material gain was a key motivator of support for the Armenian genocide among the local Muslim gentry and the Turkish public. Those who benefited most—provincial elites, wealthy landowners, state officials, and merchants who accumulated Armenian capital—in turn financed the nationalist movement that brought the modern Turkish republic into being. The economic elite of Aintab was thus reconstituted along both ethnic and political lines.
The Armenians of Aintab draws on primary sources from Armenian, Ottoman, Turkish, British, and French archives, as well as memoirs, personal papers, oral accounts, and newly discovered property-liquidation records. Together they provide an invaluable account of genocide at ground level.
Roger Fry, a core member of the Bloomsbury Group, was involved with all aspects of the art market as artist, critic, curator, historian, journalist, advisor to collectors, and gallery operator. He is especially remembered as the person who introduced postimpressionist art to Britain.
Reprinted in this volume are seventeen of Fry's works on commerce in art. Although he had no formal training in economics, Fry addressed the art market as a modern economist might do. It is therefore fitting that his writings receive here an original interpretation from the perspective of a modern economist, Craufurd D. Goodwin. Goodwin explores why Fry's work is both a landmark in the history of cross-disciplinary thought and a source of fresh insights into a wide range of current policy questions.
The new writings included contain Fry's most important contributions to theory, history, and debates over policy as he explored the determinants of the supply of art, the demand for art, and the art market institutions that facilitate exchange. His ideas and speculations are as stimulating and provocative today as when they were written.
"A fascinating selection of essays by one of the twentieth century's most thoughtful and stimulating critics. Goodwin's introduction sets the stage beautifully, providing useful links to Veblen and Keynes." --D. E. Moggridge, University of Toronto
"Art and the Market uncovers new connections between aesthetics and art in the Bloomsbury Group. . . . Goodwin adds significantly to the understanding of cultural economics in the work of Fry himself as well as J. M. Keynes and even Leonard and Virginia Woolf." --S. P. Rosenbaum, University of Toronto
"All those interested in the arts and economics, and their connections, will be delighted by this collection, as will be students of Bloomsbury." --Peter Stansky, Stanford University
Craufurd D. Goodwin is James B. Duke Professor of Economics, Duke University.
Lukas Rieppel shows how dinosaurs gripped the popular imagination and became emblems of America’s industrial power and economic prosperity during the Gilded Age. Spectacular fossils were displayed in museums financed by North America’s wealthiest tycoons, to cement their reputation as both benefactors of science and fierce capitalists.
Although some statesmen and historians have pinned Austria’s—and the world’s—interwar economic implosion on financial colonialism, in this corrective history Nathan Marcus deemphasizes the negative role of external players and points to the greater impact of domestic malfeasance and predatory speculation on Austrian political and financial decline.