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COLONY, CLUB AND CORPORATION: The persistence of gentlemanly capitalist networks in India from the British Raj to the present day

Date:
31 Mar 2016

Summary:

‘Members only’: the exclusive social establishments of colonial South Bombay were known as gymkhanas – an Anglo-Indian term for gentlemen’s clubs. Still peppered around the Bombay coastline, they recall the luxury and glamour of the British Raj. And while the infamous ‘No Indians or dogs’ signs are long removed from those colonial verandas, access is still limited to the socio-economic elite.

Today, the Bombay club culture closely underpins the boardrooms of Indian manufacturing firms, especially those established under British patronage and passed down family lines. Research by Shachi Amdekar, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2016 annual conference in Cambridge, tells the story of these Indian industrial houses, which used the power of community and networks to rise from the chaos of empire and dominate Indian industry as we know it today.

AVOIDING GLOBAL FINANCIAL REGULATION: How the Bank of England protected the Eurodollar market in its formative years, 1959-64

Date:
31 Mar 2016

Summary:

‘Has the Euro-Dollar a future?’ a leading financial journalist of the City of London asked in 1963. According to research by Seung Woo Kim, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2016 annual conference in Cambridge, the Bank of England’s reply was ‘yes’ as it succeeded in negating global efforts to control the market for expatriate US dollars and introduce a regulatory system at the international level.

POLITICAL INSTABILITY AND PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS: Lessons from the English East India Company

Date:
31 Mar 2016

Summary:

During the 1700s and 1800s, the English East India Company was one of the most important firms in the world. Its business of conducting trade between England and Asia required large investments in physical capital, such as ships and forts, and an organisational structure that spanned locations more than halfway across the globe.

New research by Dan Bogart, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2016 annual conference in Cambridge, shows how political instability in both England and India caused the English East India Company to invest less in shipping capacity, and ultimately hindered its performance. Higher English budget deficits, changes in the English monarchy, Parliamentary elections and changes in Mughal emperors all were negatively associated with investment.

CENTRAL BANKERS IN WARTIME: New research on the Bank of England in the Second World War

Date:
31 Mar 2016

Summary:

Brexit is hardly the first time the Bank of England has planned for a future economic crisis or given strident policy advice about the impact of international dealings. As war raged in the centre of London in 1941, there were more than politicians and public servants in the corridors of power. Across the Commonwealth there was a network of central bankers co-opted for the war effort, with the Bank of England, and the interests of Britain at its heart. 

In research to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2016 annual conference in Cambridge, Miesje de Vogel recounts this story and draws lessons for today. She notes that for years, the Governor of the Bank of England, Montagu Norman, had wanted a chain of central banks stretching across the Dominions to create ‘the smooth working of the world’s financial machinery’:

BRITAIN’S SHARP FALL IN MORTALITY 1850-1914: New study of the impact of sanitary improvements

Date:
31 Mar 2016

Summary:

During the second half of the nineteenth century, the rate of mortality in Britain declined quite sharply. Research by Bernard Harris and Andrew Hinde, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2016 annual conference in Cambridge, examines the role played by loans contracted by urban local authorities for public works and other sanitary purposes. Their study also compares the chronology of these loans with the pattern of mortality decline from different diseases.

HOUSING POLICY UNDER MRS THATCHER: New research reveals the limits to her reverence for the free market

Date:
31 Mar 2016

Summary:

Margaret Thatcher’s deepest commitment was not to promoting the free market but to promoting her vision of free, responsible citizens. This is particularly reflected in her government’s housing policy, where alongside ‘neoliberal’ economics and a desire to cut state spending, there was a distinct moral vision of the virtues of homeownership and the dangers of mass council housing.

These are among the conclusions of research by Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2016 annual conference in Cambridge. Her study examines debates within the Conservative Party between 1975 and the early 1980s about the ‘Right to Buy’ alongside debates about mortgage subsidies offered through the tax system, and the right of the homeless to housing.

THE TOOLS OF CREDIT IN MEDIEVAL ENGLAND: New study of ‘merchant law’

Date:
31 Mar 2016

Summary:

Business people and merchants have long been concerned about how to reduce red tape, including more efficient means to pursue debts and enforce contracts. This was no different in late medieval England. Medieval merchants wanted speedy, efficient justice that suited their commercial interests. 

A study by James Davis, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2016 annual conference in Cambridge, highlights how many local courts attracted business by employing a special type of procedure called ‘merchant law’. This ‘law’ allowed merchants to expedite their cases and reinforced the importance of written proof over the sworn word of local men.

A CHALLENGE TO BRETTON WOODS NOSTALGIA

Date:
30 Mar 2016

Summary:

Returning to the Bretton Woods system of managing the global economy would not guarantee a solution to reserve accumulation and global imbalances; nor would it guarantee more autonomy for national economies. These are among the conclusions of new research that challenges nostalgia for the Bretton Woods period, a time when capital flows were controlled and when countries seemed isolated from global shocks and did not fear competitive devaluations.

WORKSHOP OF THE WORLD? Late Victorian Britain was more of a shop with relatively few workers inside

Date:
30 Mar 2016

Summary:

Nineteenth-century Britain is often regarded as the ‘workshop of the world’, a sobriquet that quickly calls to mind the international dominance of Britain’s manufacturing sector. But by the closing decades of the nineteenth century, Britain was at a comparative disadvantage in several manufacturing industries, such as glass and leather manufactures, to name just two. One of the main reasons for these comparative disadvantages was the relative scarcity of labour in late Victorian Britain.

These are among the findings of research to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2016 annual conference in Cambridge. Brian Varian, a PhD student at the London School of Economics, has calculated systematic measurements of comparative advantage for the manufacturing industries of late Victorian Britain, specifically for the years 1880, 1890 and 1900.

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