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BRITAIN’S FAILED COMMON CURRENCY: New study of the medieval sterling area

Date:
30 Mar 2016

Summary:

The pound sterling dominated the economy of the British Isles for much of the Middle Ages, but according to research by Dr Martin Allen, this was a common currency that failed. His study, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2016 annual conference in Cambridge, shows that England’s sterling currency was an essential part of English domination of Wales and Ireland – but monetary union with Scotland broke down as the Scots chose to go their own way.

ORIGINS OF MODERN FINANCE: New evidence on the financialisation of the early Victorian economy and the London Stock Exchange

Date:
30 Mar 2016

Summary:

Previously unexplored collections at the Bank of England are providing novel perspectives on the size, functioning and role of the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in early Victorian times. Among the findings of research by Andrew Odlyzko, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2016 annual conference in Cambridge: 

  • Share price lists from that time provide a very imperfect record of LSE business, for many securities covering not much more than 10% of the transactions.

  • Turnover was very low – under 10% per year for Bank of England shares, for example)

  • Trading was dominated by a small number of large players.

  • The LSE provided surprisingly efficient service to retail customers, given these constraints.

  • The LSE was an important, and so far almost totally ignored, part of the ‘shadow banking system’ of the time.

GDP PER CAPITA: From objective measurement tool to ideological construct

Date:
30 Mar 2016

Summary:

GDP per capita has developed from being a useful measurement device for restricted purposes, time periods and circumstances to becoming a hegemonic and normatively forceful tool applied to address many questions across diverse time periods and cultures. As such, it has contributed to a biased view of the origins and trajectory of global economic and social betterment and hence of the conditions that might promote globally sustainable development in the future.

That is the argument made by Professor Pat Hudson in research to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2016 annual conference in Cambridge.

BRITISH WELLBEING 1780-1850: A new measure of the impact of industrialisation on income, health, working time and inequality

Date:
30 Mar 2016

Summary:

A new composite indicator of changes in income, health, working time and inequality in Britain for the period 1780-1850 clearly points to a steady increase in wellbeing over the whole period. But it also shows that wellbeing growth did not accelerate after the Napoleonic wars, which is when some historians argue that benefits in terms of real wages started to trickle down to the working classes.

TRUSTWORTHY BANKERS: New study of the first bank directors in England and Wales, 1826-1844

Date:
30 Mar 2016

Summary:

The new joint stock banks that were made possible by UK government legislation to stabilise the banking system after the financial crisis of 1825/26 operated without a regulator or full central bank and no professional body. Yet according to research by Victoria Barnes and Lucy Newton, the directors managed the banks that they established successfully and fraudulent behaviour was uncommon.

THE CAMPAIGN FOR LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANIES IN ENGLAND

Date:
30 Mar 2016

Summary:

The fall-out of the 2008 financial crisis has seen calls for bankers to be made personally liable for institutional losses, which would cancel the protection now routinely provided by the limited liability company. In mid-Victorian Britain, however, obtaining limited liability was akin to obtaining a divorce – technically possible but difficult and expensive. Anyone wishing to set up a limited company in England needed a parliamentary Act or a Board of Trade charter.

HOLDING MAYORS TO ACCOUNT: Lessons from two English cities in the Middle Ages

Date:
29 Mar 2016

Summary:

Over centuries, the main constitutional issues in urban governance have concerned the accountability of the mayor and the diversity of resources in different cities. Research by Dave Postles, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2016 annual conference in Cambridge, looks at two cities in the later Middle Ages to illustrate these developments. While the financial income of Leicester was slender, Exeter exulted in massive fiscal resources. The infrastructure of the two places thus differed accordingly.

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