Economic history

David Jacks, Dennis Novy, 23 July 2019

Against the backdrop of new tariffs imposed by the Trump administration and retaliation from targeted countries, notably China, the trade wars of the 1930s have received renewed attention. This column argues that they mainly served to intensify a pre-existing trend towards the formation of trade blocs. The trade wars of the present day may therefore serve a similar purpose as those in the 1930s, that is, the intensification of China- and US-centric trade blocs.

Maylis Avaro, Vincent Bignon, 20 July 2019

The payment landscape is changing. This column goes back to late 19th century France to explore the implications of this more decentralised and less banked landscape for the design of central banks’ interventions when fighting financial crises. The Banque de France operated a very wide discount window and used a variety of risk management techniques to effectively subdue risk-taking behaviours and to protect its balance sheet from taking any loss. This helped it to stabilise the economy and to overcome the consequences of negative income shocks.

Jakob Brøchner Madsen, Peter Robertson, Longfeng Ye, 14 July 2019

The econometric evidence for the Malthusian trap in pre-industrial Europe has been weak. The column presents a new Malthusian model that, combined with new historical data for 17 countries, provides evidence of a much stronger Malthusian trap than the one found by previous research. This helps to explain the economic stagnation from the dark ages to the industrial revolution.

Morgan Kelly, 05 July 2019

A large literature on persistence finds that many modern outcomes strongly reflect characteristics of the same places in the past. Although these regressions feature unusually high t statistics, they usually also display severe spatial autocorrelation in residuals. Exploiting data from 28 persistence studies published in leading journals, this column runs artificial regressions where both variables are spatial noise and shows that this produces severely inflated t statistics. Replicating published studies shows that in most cases the main persistence variable frequently has lower explanatory power than spatial noise but can, in turn, strongly predict spatial noise.

Gianmarco Ottaviano, 03 July 2019

Economic geography strikes back. After a couple of decades of easy talk about the ‘death of distance’ in the age of globalisation, the promise of a world of rising living standards for all is increasingly challenged by the resilience of regional disparities within countries. As long as many people and firms are not geographically mobile – and those who are tend to be the most skilled and productive – easier distant interactions can actually strengthen rather than weaken agglomeration economies. Recent electoral trends in Europe can be understood to a surprisingly large extent from this angle. 

Other Recent Articles:


  • 17 - 18 August 2019 / Peking University, Beijing / Chinese University of Hong Kong – Tsinghua University Joint Research Center for Chinese Economy, the Institute for Emerging Market Studies at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University, the Stanford Center on Global Poverty and Development at Stanford University, the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University, BREAD, NBER and CEPR
  • 19 - 20 August 2019 / Vienna, Palais Coburg / WU Research Institute for Capital Markets (ISK)
  • 29 - 30 August 2019 / Galatina, Italy /
  • 4 - 5 September 2019 / Roma Eventi, Congress Center, Pontificia Università Gregoriana Piazza della Pilotta, 4, Rome, Italy / European Center of Sustainable Development , CIT University
  • 9 - 14 September 2019 / Guildford, Surrey, UK / The University of Surrey

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