Economic history

Michel Fouquin, Jules Hugot, 17 September 2016

Historians and economists generally identify two periods of trade globalisation, the first beginning around 1870 and the second during the 1970s. The column argues that new data from 1827 onwards shows globalisation beginning as trade barriers were lowered around 1840, and that both periods of globalisation were surprisingly fuelled by a regionalisation of world trade. If globalisation continues to grow in future, regionalisation may decline.

Mario Crucini, Gregor Smith, 05 September 2016

Commodity price convergence is often seen as the best way to measure the integration of markets that defines globalisation. This column reviews research on historical prices and also presents intranational evidence from Sweden from 1732 to 1914. Price convergence appears to date to the 18th century, well before the adoption of the telegraph or the railway. For emerging economies today, intranational price convergence arising from declining internal distance effects may be a precursor to globalisation.

Patrick O'Brien, Nuno Palma, 03 September 2016

Today's unconventional central bank policies have historical precedent. One example is the suspension of convertibility of banknotes into gold by the Bank of England between 1797 and 1821. This column argues that, although there were important differences between then and now, it demonstrates that bank reputation and interaction between bank and state are vital to the success of unconventional policies. Also, short-term unconventional policies may persist long after a crisis has passed.

Stefano Ugolini, 30 August 2016

When Mario Draghi famously declared that the ECB was “ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro”, he also specified “within our mandate”. This column examines the institutional limitations to central bankers’ actions. It argues that institutional constraints are essential in determining the sustainability of monetary policies, and hence central banks’ ability to pursue their targets. The weakness of the Bank of England in the heyday of the gold standard is a case in point.

Charles Angelucci, Julia Cagé, 26 August 2016

Advertisers are deserting newspapers. Using the impact of television advertising on print media in 1968, this column argues that a reduction in advertising revenues will reduce the quality of newspapers. Ultimately, this may result in a less well-informed public.

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