Economic history

Davide Cantoni, Felix Hagemeister, Mark Westcott, 18 September 2017

Economists and political scientists alike have tried to provide explanations for the rise of populist parties across the globe. This column examines the role of history in explaining the recent rise of the far-right in Germany. It finds that municipalities with high vote shares for the Nazi party in the late 1920s/early 1930s had also higher vote shares for the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland party in 2016/17 state elections, suggesting that historical persistence, together with a major shift in the German political landscape, can explain the rise of far-right populism.

George Dotsis, 10 September 2017

Option trading has grown phenomenally in the last 40 years, but option markets have existed since the early 17th century. This column reviews an option trading manual written by a London trader in 1906. It shows that traders in the 19th century developed sophisticated techniques for determining the prices of short-term calls and puts. They also priced at-the-money-forward straddles the same way they are priced today.

Antonin Bergeaud, Gilbert Cette, Rémy Lecat, 04 September 2017

Over the 20th century, GDP growth was mainly driven by total factor productivity growth. Since the mid-2000s, however, productivity growth has been in decline. This column explores the history and future of growth focusing on four developed economies: the US, the Eurozone, the UK, and Japan. Simulated scenarios for the 21st century show a wide range of potential growth outcomes, dependent on whether total factor productivity growth stays indefinitely low, and whether the digital economy delivers a new productivity growth wave.

Robert Margo, 03 September 2017

Specialist economic historians in the US today behave, and are rewarded, in similar ways to other economists. Mainstream economists also publish articles on economic history. This column argues that this is the culmination of a process of integration of history and econometrics that started with the cliometrics revolution in the 1950s. If this continues however, there is a risk that the demand for economic historians with the skills to ‘get the history right’ might dry up.

Stephen Broadberry, John Joseph Wallis, 05 July 2017

Most analysis of long-run economic performance abstracts from short-run fluctuations and seeks to explain improved performance through an increase in the rate of growth. Using data on annual rates of change of per capita income reaching back to the 13th century for some countries, this column show that improved long-run performance has actually occurred primarily through a decline in the rate and frequency of shrinking. Structural change, technological change, demographic change and the changing incidence of warfare offer at best a partial explanation; a full understanding requires a consideration of institutional change.

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