New Issue – European Review of Economic History- February 2012

European Review of Economic HistoryA new issue of European Review of Economic History has been published.

 

 Small is beautiful: the efficiency of credit markets in the late medieval Holland, Jan Luiten van Zanden, Jaco Zuijderduijn, Tine De Moor.

 

In this paper, we analyse the functioning of private capital markets in Holland in the late medieval period. We argue that in the absence of banks and state agencies involved in the supply of credit, entrepreneurs’ access to credit was determined by two interrelated factors. The first was the quality of property rights protection and the extent to which properties could be used as collateral. The second was the level of interest in borrowing money at the time as well as such borrowing compared with the interest rates on risk-free investments. For our case study, the small town of Edam and its hinterland, De Zeevang, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, we demonstrate that properties were used as collateral on a large scale and that interest rates on both small and large loans were relatively low (about 6 percent). As a result, many households (whether headed by men or women) owned financial assets and/or debts, and the degree of financial sophistication was relatively high.

Extending broadcast technology in the British Colonies during the 1950s, Sue Bowden, David Clayton, Alvaro Pereira.

 

Using a rich and under-exploited set of primary sources, differential rates of take up of radio broadcast technologies across the British Empire are described and explained. The research adds a developing economy perspective to the literature on the diffusion of consumer durables. The effects of prices and incomes (captured via an “affordability index”) are qualified. The strategic concerns of suppliers and path-dependent processes are shown to have been significant. The complex effects of ethnic fragmentation on rates of diffusion within colonial territories are revealed. Debates regarding technological change in the developing world and about the diffusion of consumer durables are advanced.

The origins of foreign exchange policy: the National Bank of Belgium and the quest for monetary independence in the 1850s, Stefano Ugolini.

 

The monetary policy trilemma maintains that financial openness, fixed exchange rates, and monetary independence cannot coexist. Yet, in the 1850s, Belgium violated this prediction. Through a study of nineteenth-century monetary policy implementation, this article investigates the reasons for such success. This was mainly built on the stabilisation of central bank liquidity, not of exchange rates as assumed by the target-zone literature. Other ingredients included: the role of circulating bullion as a buffer for central bank reserves, the banking system’s structural liquidity deficit towards the central bank, and the central bank’s size relative to the money market.

 

Land markets and agrarian backwardness (Spain, 1904–1934), Juan Camona, Juan R. Rosés.

 

To what extent were land markets the cause of Spanish agrarian backwardness? To address this unresolved issue, this paper uses new provincial data on average real land prices, together with a province-level variation in land productivity, to analyze the efficiency of land markets. Specifically, we test, first, whether land markets were spatially integrated and, secondly, whether land prices can be explained with the present value model. Our results suggest that land prices converged across provinces and that their variations were driven by market fundamentals. In consequence, we conclude that the institutional failure in land markets was not the cause of the relatively poor productivity performance of Spanish agriculture.

 

The bombing of Germany: the economic geography of war-induced dislocation in West German industry, Tamäs Vonyó.

 

This paper reveals the impact of wartime destruction in urban housing on regional economic growth in West Germany between 1939 and 1950. I demonstrate econometrically that the German economy remained severely dislocated as long as the urban housing stock had not been rebuilt. The recovery of urban industry was constrained by a war-induced labour shortage and, therefore, industrial capacities remained underutilized. In contrast, the growth of the rural economy was facilitated by labour expansion, which depressed industrial labour productivity. I apply instrumental variables to account for endogeneity and robust regressions to adjust for the impact of outliers.

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