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MARKETS FOR INNOVATION IN THE EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY: Evidence from Torino’s 1911 International Exhibition

Date:
29 Mar 2016

Summary:

Only a few months ago, the 2015 Expo brought to the Northern Italian city of Milan more than 20 million visitors from all over the world. The media talked extensively about the event, dedicating a particular attention to the long lines that visitors had to stand to access the exhibition’s pavilions, especially the most ‘exotic’ – and therefore requested – ones, like the Japanese.

But this is actually no news: international exhibitions have mobilised giant masses of human beings for more than 160 years, since their inception with London’s 1851 Great Exhibition. The record of 50 million visitors, reached by Paris 1900 Exposition Universelle, was overtaken 70 years later, in populous Asia, by Osaka’s Expo.

Research by Giacomo Domini, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2016 annual conference, draws attention to these events, which were among the most distinctive of the second half of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth.

THE UK’S CONSUMER CREDIT ACT 1974: New evidence of its economic benefits

Date:
29 Mar 2016

Summary:

The Consumer Credit Act 1974 (CCA74) was the first law in the UK that brought together all consumer credit related products under a unique regulatory framework. One of the main objectives of this law was to increase competition and improve consumer rights through the introduction of the publication of the true cost of lending – making credit issuers publish the annual percentage rate (APR) of their products.

The introduction of the CCA74 increased the outstanding volumes of consumer credit by three to six GDP percentage points. Moreover, it improved consumers’ understanding of the true cost of credit, as shown by the change in the relationship between interest rates and demand for credit during the 1970s and 1980s.

Finally, the CCA74 does not seem to have caused any inflationary pressures, a decrease in the volume of savings or instabilities of the economy in general. These are the findings of new research by Sergio Castellanos-Gamboa, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2016 annual conference.

EARLY EVOLUTION OF CENTRAL BANKING IN INDIA: The impact of the Great War

Date:
29 Mar 2016

Summary:

The Great War had a phenomenal impact on banking business globally, bringing financial stress throughout the world including India, Britain’s most important colony. Research by Tehreem Husain and Nadeem Aftab, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2016 annual conference in Cambridge, shows that the Great War brought macroeconomic and financial stress, leading to the collapse of 83 banks during the war. This crisis went on unabated due to lack of a formal regulatory structure to lend support to troubled institutions.

THE PALM OIL INDUSTRY: Technological change; global competition; social and environmental impact

Date:
29 Mar 2016

Summary:

Despite becoming the world’s leading palm oil producer and exporter, Indonesia is still struggling technologically to compete with the Malaysian palm oil sector. The Malaysian Palm Oil Board, the government’s main research body, alone owns 87 US patents, while its Indonesian counterpart, the Indonesia Oil Palm Research Institute has none.

Research by Lars Bruno, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2016 annual conference in Cambridge, looks at the Indonesian-Malaysian interrelationship over time in the light of trade theory and analyses the differences in its technological development.

MERCENARY MARRIAGES: The market for brides in eighteenth century England

Date:
29 Mar 2015

Summary:

The eighteenth century in western Europe has been identified by historians as the period when marriages made for practical considerations gave way to marriages based on love. But new research by Anne Laurence, to be presented at the Economic History Society’s 2015 annual conference, finds that pragmatic marriages –  those made for the preservation or transfer of wealth – became more not less important during this era.

WHEN TECHNOLOGY DESTROYS JOBS: Evidence from the adoption of electricity in the Great Depression

Date:
29 Mar 2015

Summary:

When firms adopt a new technology such as computers or electricity, what happens to employment? One side of the debate – the ‘technological unemployment’ view – argues that firms fire workers they no longer need because demand for products does not increase quickly enough to offset productivity gains. The other side of the debate – the ‘Luddite fallacy’ view – looks at the reverse of the coin and see innovations as productivity-enhancing, so firms can maintain employment and increase production.

New research by Miguel Barroso Morin, presented at the Economic History Society’s 2015 annual conference, supports the view of technological unemployment. Examining the historical transition to electricity in the US concrete industry in the 1930s, he finds that the adoption of this labour-saving technology had a strong effect: the long-term improvement in the generation of electric power caused a 36% increase in labour productivity, a 39% increase in electric capital intensity and a 21% decrease in employment, while production stayed constant.

RELOCATING GIBRALTARIANS: Friedrich Hayek’s 1944 plan to use market forces to move Gibraltar’s civilian population into Spain

Date:
28 Mar 2015

Summary:

In 1944, the celebrated economist Friedrich Hayek was commissioned by the British Colonial Office to undertake a report on the economy of Gibraltar. His conclusion was that the government of Gibraltar should use market forces to relocate working class Gibraltarians into neighbouring Spain. Yet despite the libertarian credentials Hayek had established via his work of the same year, The Road to Serfdom, such a policy would have moved Gibraltarians into the dictatorship of General Franco.

In a study presented to the Economic History Society’s 2015 annual conference, Chris Grocott argues that Hayek’s proposal to relocate Gibraltarians into Spain shows an alarming lack of political astuteness on the part of the winner of the 1974 Nobel Prize for Economics.

HOW JAPAN’S LABOUR MARKET EXCLUDES WOMEN: A new perspective on ‘the economy that fell from grace’

Date:
28 Mar 2015

Summary:

The institutions of the labour market in Japan effectively force women into a binary decision between career or family. That is one of the conclusions of research by Carmen Gruber presented at the Economic History Society’s 2015 annual conference. She comments that much like the protagonist in Yukio Mishima’s The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea, Japan itself seems to have fallen from being a post-war model of economic growth to being a warning of economic ills to avoid.

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