Economic history

Jean-Pascal Bassino, Stephen Broadberry, Kyoji Fukao, Bishnupriya Gupta, Masanori Takashima, 01 July 2015

Japan was the first Asian nation to achieve modern economic growth. This column discusses new evidence suggesting that Japan’s growth started from a lower level than Britain’s and grew more slowly until the Meiji Restoration. The key to understanding modern economic growth seems to lie in identifying the forces that dampened growth reversals, rather than the forces responsible for growth itself.

Clemens Jobst, Stefano Ugolini, 23 June 2015

Central banks today provide liquidity exclusively through purchases of (mostly) government bonds and through collateralised open-market operations. This column considers the evolution of liquidity provision by central banks over the past two centuries, and argues that there are alternative approaches to those that are focused on today. One such alternative is a revival of the 19th century practice of uncollateralised lending. This would discourage market participants from relying on informational shortcuts, and reduce the likelihood that informational shocks trigger collateral crises.

Nico Voigtländer, Hans-Joachim Voth, 18 June 2015

Radical beliefs and violent hatred are back in the headlines and worrying policymakers around the world. This column discusses new research that suggests that, in the case of Nazi Germany, subjecting an entire population to the full power of a totalitarian state was extremely effective in instilling lasting hatred. Extremist views are still three times higher among Germans born in the 1930s than those born after 1950. However, family and the social environment can isolate young minds from the effects of indoctrination at least to some extent.

Caroline Fohlin, Thomas Gehrig, Marlene Haas, 07 May 2015

The story of the run-up to the Global Crisis is, unfortunately, not an entirely new one. This column argues that regulators would do well to read up on the ‘Panic of 1907’. What quelled rumours and panicky behaviour back then still applies – maintaining market liquidity through measures that encourage transparency.

Dora L. Costa, Matthew E. Kahn, 27 April 2015

Newspapers report good and bad news, but the reporting doesn’t always match reality. This column presents evidence from turn-of-the-century America that news reports of typhoid tracked mortality patterns, but the reporting was biased. Spikes in death rates led to bigger jumps in media coverage when death rates were low. This could be due to the idea that deviations from Kahneman and Tversky’s ‘reference points’ are more newsworthy, or due to the possibility that bad news is more valuable to readers when things seem to be going well.

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