Princeton University Press

The Princeton Economic History of the Western World

Published by: Princeton University Press

Go

Browse Books in Series:

The Princeton Economic History of the Western World

1 2 NEXT next

Results 1-10 of 16

:
:
restricted access This search result is for a Book

The Big Problem of Small Change

Thomas J. Sargent

The Big Problem of Small Change offers the first credible and analytically sound explanation of how a problem that dogged monetary authorities for hundreds of years was finally solved. Two leading economists, Thomas Sargent and François Velde, examine the evolution of Western European economies through the lens of one of the classic problems of monetary history--the recurring scarcity and depreciation of small change. Through penetrating and clearly worded analysis, they tell the story of how monetary technologies, doctrines, and practices evolved from 1300 to 1850; of how the "standard formula" was devised to address an age-old dilemma without causing inflation.

One big problem had long plagued commodity money (that is, money literally worth its weight in gold): governments were hard-pressed to provide a steady supply of small change because of its high costs of production. The ensuing shortages hampered trade and, paradoxically, resulted in inflation and depreciation of small change. After centuries of technological progress that limited counterfeiting, in the nineteenth century governments replaced the small change in use until then with fiat money (money not literally equal to the value claimed for it)--ensuring a secure flow of small change. But this was not all. By solving this problem, suggest Sargent and Velde, modern European states laid the intellectual and practical basis for the diverse forms of money that make the world go round today.

This keenly argued, richly imaginative, and attractively illustrated study presents a comprehensive history and theory of small change. The authors skillfully convey the intuition that underlies their rigorous analysis. All those intrigued by monetary history will recognize this book for the standard that it is.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

The Chosen Few

How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70-1492

Maristella Botticini

In 70 CE, the Jews were an agrarian and illiterate people living mostly in the Land of Israel and Mesopotamia. By 1492 the Jewish people had become a small group of literate urbanites specializing in crafts, trade, moneylending, and medicine in hundreds of places across the Old World, from Seville to Mangalore. What caused this radical change? The Chosen Few presents a new answer to this question by applying the lens of economic analysis to the key facts of fifteen formative centuries of Jewish history. Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein offer a powerful new explanation of one of the most significant transformations in Jewish history while also providing fresh insights into the growing debate about the social and economic impact of religion.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Cities of Commerce

The Institutional Foundations of International Trade in the Low Countries, 1250-1650

Oscar Gelderblom

Cities of Commerce develops a model of institutional change in European commerce based on urban rivalry. Cities continuously competed with each other by adapting commercial, legal, and financial institutions to the evolving needs of merchants. Oscar Gelderblom traces the successive rise of Bruges, Antwerp, and Amsterdam to commercial primacy between 1250 and 1650, showing how dominant cities feared being displaced by challengers while lesser cities sought to keep up by cultivating policies favorable to trade. He argues that it was this competitive urban network that promoted open-access institutions in the Low Countries, and emphasizes the central role played by the urban power holders--the magistrates--in fostering these inclusive institutional arrangements. Gelderblom describes how the city fathers resisted the predatory or reckless actions of their territorial rulers, and how their nonrestrictive approach to commercial life succeeded in attracting merchants from all over Europe.

Cities of Commerce intervenes in an important debate on the growth of trade in Europe before the Industrial Revolution. Challenging influential theories that attribute this commercial expansion to the political strength of merchants, this book demonstrates how urban rivalry fostered the creation of open-access institutions in international trade.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Creating Wine

The Emergence of a World Industry, 1840-1914

James Simpson

Today's wine industry is characterized by regional differences not only in the wines themselves but also in the business models by which these wines are produced, marketed, and distributed. In Old World countries such as France, Spain, and Italy, small family vineyards and cooperative wineries abound. In New World regions like the United States and Australia, the industry is dominated by a handful of very large producers. This is the first book to trace the economic and historical forces that gave rise to very distinctive regional approaches to creating wine.

James Simpson shows how the wine industry was transformed in the decades leading up to the First World War. Population growth, rising wages, and the railways all contributed to soaring European consumption even as many vineyards were decimated by the vine disease phylloxera. At the same time, new technologies led to a major shift in production away from Europe's traditional winemaking regions. Small family producers in Europe developed institutions such as regional appellations and cooperatives to protect their commercial interests as large integrated companies built new markets in America and elsewhere. Simpson examines how Old and New World producers employed diverging strategies to adapt to the changing global wine industry.

Creating Wine includes chapters on Europe's cheap commodity wine industry; the markets for sherry, port, claret, and champagne; and the new wine industries in California, Australia, and Argentina.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Cultures Merging

A Historical and Economic Critique of Culture

Eric L. Jones

"Economists agree about many things--contrary to popular opinion--but the majority agree about culture only in the sense that they no longer give it much thought." So begins the first chapter of Cultures Merging, in which Eric Jones--one of the world's leading economic historians--takes an eloquent, pointed, and personal look at the question of whether culture determines economics or is instead determined by it.

Bringing immense learning and originality to the issue of cultural change over the long-term course of global economic history, Jones questions cultural explanations of much social behavior in Europe, East Asia, the United States, Australia, and the Middle East. He also examines contemporary globalization, arguing that while centuries of economic competition have resulted in the merging of cultures into fewer and larger units, these changes have led to exciting new syntheses.

Culture matters to economic outcomes, Jones argues, but cultures in turn never stop responding to market forces, even if some elements of culture stubbornly persist beyond the time when they can be explained by current economic pressures. In the longer run, however, cultures show a fluidity that will astonish some cultural determinists. Jones concludes that culture's "ghostly transit through history" is much less powerful than noneconomists often claim, yet it has a greater influence than economists usually admit.

The product of a lifetime of reading and thinking on culture and economics, a work of history and an analysis of the contemporary world, Cultures Merging will be essential reading for anyone concerned about the interaction of cultures and markets around the world.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Distant Tyranny

Markets, Power, and Backwardness in Spain, 1650-1800

Regina Grafe

Spain's development from a premodern society into a modern unified nation-state with an integrated economy was painfully slow and varied widely by region. Economic historians have long argued that high internal transportation costs limited domestic market integration, while at the same time the Castilian capital city of Madrid drew resources from surrounding Spanish regions as it pursued its quest for centralization. According to this view, powerful Madrid thwarted trade over large geographic distances by destroying an integrated network of manufacturing towns in the Spanish interior.

Challenging this long-held view, Regina Grafe argues that decentralization, not a strong and powerful Madrid, is to blame for Spain's slow march to modernity. Through a groundbreaking analysis of the market for bacalao--dried and salted codfish that was a transatlantic commodity and staple food during this period--Grafe shows how peripheral historic territories and powerful interior towns obstructed Spain's economic development through jurisdictional obstacles to trade, which exacerbated already high transport costs. She reveals how the early phases of globalization made these regions much more externally focused, and how coastal elites that were engaged in trade outside Spain sought to sustain their positions of power in relation to Madrid.

Distant Tyranny offers a needed reassessment of the haphazard and regionally diverse process of state formation and market integration in early modern Spain, showing how local and regional agency paradoxically led to legitimate governance but economic backwardness.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

The Evolution of a Nation

How Geography and Law Shaped the American States

Daniel Berkowitz

Although political and legal institutions are essential to any nation's economic development, the forces that have shaped these institutions are poorly understood. Drawing on rich evidence about the development of the American states from the mid-nineteenth to the late twentieth century, this book documents the mechanisms through which geographical and historical conditions--such as climate, access to water transportation, and early legal systems--impacted political and judicial institutions and economic growth.

The book shows how a state's geography and climate influenced whether elites based their wealth in agriculture or trade. States with more occupationally diverse elites in 1860 had greater levels of political competition in their legislature from 1866 to 2000. The book also examines the effects of early legal systems. Because of their colonial history, thirteen states had an operational civil-law legal system prior to statehood. All of these states except Louisiana would later adopt common law. By the late eighteenth century, the two legal systems differed in their balances of power. In civil-law systems, judiciaries were subordinate to legislatures, whereas in common-law systems, the two were more equal. Former civil-law states and common-law states exhibit persistent differences in the structure of their courts, the retention of judges, and judicial budgets. Moreover, changes in court structures, retention procedures, and budgets occur under very different conditions in civil-law and common-law states.

The Evolution of a Nation illustrates how initial geographical and historical conditions can determine the evolution of political and legal institutions and long-run growth.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Feeding the World

An Economic History of Agriculture, 1800-2000

Giovanni Federico

In the last two centuries, agriculture has been an outstanding, if somewhat neglected, success story. Agriculture has fed an ever-growing population with an increasing variety of products at falling prices, even as it has released a growing number of workers to the rest of the economy. This book, a comprehensive history of world agriculture during this period, explains how these feats were accomplished.

Feeding the World synthesizes two hundred years of agricultural development throughout the world, providing all essential data and extensive references to the literature. It covers, systematically, all the factors that have affected agricultural performance: environment, accumulation of inputs, technical progress, institutional change, commercialization, agricultural policies, and more. The last chapter discusses the contribution of agriculture to modern economic growth. The book is global in its reach and analysis, and represents a grand synthesis of an enormous topic.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Lending to the Borrower from Hell

Debt, Taxes, and Default in the Age of Philip II

Mauricio Drelichman

Why do lenders time and again loan money to sovereign borrowers who promptly go bankrupt? When can this type of lending work? As the United States and many European nations struggle with mountains of debt, historical precedents can offer valuable insights. Lending to the Borrower from Hell looks at one famous case--the debts and defaults of Philip II of Spain. Ruling over one of the largest and most powerful empires in history, King Philip defaulted four times. Yet he never lost access to capital markets and could borrow again within a year or two of each default. Exploring the shrewd reasoning of the lenders who continued to offer money, Mauricio Drelichman and Hans-Joachim Voth analyze the lessons from this important historical example.

Using detailed new evidence collected from sixteenth-century archives, Drelichman and Voth examine the incentives and returns of lenders. They provide powerful evidence that in the right situations, lenders not only survive despite defaults--they thrive. Drelichman and Voth also demonstrate that debt markets cope well, despite massive fluctuations in expenditure and revenue, when lending functions like insurance. The authors unearth unique sixteenth-century loan contracts that offered highly effective risk sharing between the king and his lenders, with payment obligations reduced in bad times.

A fascinating story of finance and empire, Lending to the Borrower from Hell offers an intelligent model for keeping economies safe in times of sovereign debt crises and defaults.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

Power to the People

Energy in Europe over the Last Five Centuries

Astrid Kander

Power to the People examines the varied but interconnected relationships between energy consumption and economic development in Europe over the last five centuries. It describes how the traditional energy economy of medieval and early modern Europe was marked by stable or falling per capita energy consumption, and how the First Industrial Revolution in the eighteenth century--fueled by coal and steam engines--redrew the economic, social, and geopolitical map of Europe and the world. The Second Industrial Revolution continued this energy expansion and social transformation through the use of oil and electricity, but after 1970 Europe entered a new stage in which energy consumption has stabilized. This book challenges the view that the outsourcing of heavy industry overseas is the cause, arguing that a Third Industrial Revolution driven by new information and communication technologies has played a major stabilizing role.

Power to the People offers new perspectives on the challenges posed today by climate change and peak oil, demonstrating that although the path of modern economic development has vastly increased our energy use, it has not been a story of ever-rising and continuous consumption. The book sheds light on the often lengthy and complex changes needed for new energy systems to emerge, the role of energy resources in economic growth, and the importance of energy efficiency in promoting growth and reducing future energy demand.

1 2 NEXT next

Results 1-10 of 16

:
:

Return to Browse All Series on Project MUSE

Series

The Princeton Economic History of the Western World

Content Type

  • (16)

Access

  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access