Readings are available either on the web or, where there exists no web-based copy, at Graduate Services (http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/doemoff/grad/index.html) at 208 Doe Library. Access to readings available through JSTOR and other proprietary sources may require you to log on through a university-recognized computer and enter your Calnet ID. There can be high demand for the readings on reserve at peak times, and the library can make available only limited numbers of copies. In past years some students have found it useful to purchase some of the books from which material is assigned through their favorite online book seller and to assemble the materials for reproduction at a local copy shop.
Weekly Memo Question: Mar 5: Manhattan Island today has a population density of 70,000 people per square mile. The United States today has an average population density of 100 people per square mile--about the same as the global average in a world in which Asia has 200, Europe 130, Australia/Oceania 10, and Antarctica 0. Pick one paper. What do you think of the reasons it gives, implicitly or explicitly, for our tendency to agglomerate?
Weekly Memo Question: Feb 26: If we were at Chicago, by now you would have been taught to excess that externalities are rare and that government attempts to correct for them via Pigovian or regulatory means are destined to do more harm than good. But we are here at Berkeley--where serious interdependence and externality are everywhere, and where there is not a market that does not need either a large Pigovian tax or bounty somewhere or that does not need very skillful and well-designed regulation to come as close as possible to assigning property rights in order to cut the animal at the joints. What in the two papers this week leaves you suspicious of the Berkeley point of view?
Weekly Memo Question: Feb 19: Adam Smith confidently asserted that slavery was uneconomic--that in commercial society, manumission was the road to higher productivity because the carrot of working for yourself is much more efficient than the stick of being whipped by others. Was Smith right? If you conclude that he was right, does that mean that slavery is in general on the road to its natural extinction? And why is unfree labor such a common institution?
Weekly Memo Question: Feb 12: Economics tends to view growth as a continuous and diffuse process: if one firm does not solve the problem of how to efficiently utilize resources, others will and drive the first out of business; if one technological vein plays itself out, energy will focus on others. The papers this week argue either that unique institutions and technologies matter a lot or that they do not. What kinds of evidence not presented in this week's reading might lead you to come down on one side or the other?
Weekly Memo Question: Feb 5: Maxine Berg and Pat Hudson write that the "historiography of the industrial revolution in England has moved away from viewing the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as a unique turning point in economic and social development." Whether or not it has, do the papers this week make you think that economic historians should move away from viewing the British Industrial Revolution as the axis upon which global economic history turns, or not?
Weekly Memo Question: Jan 29: The January 22 class painted a picture of an economic world in which (a) total factor productivity growth was very slow, and (b) as a result the overwhelming effect of technological progress was to increase human numbers rather than raise standards of living above bare subsistence. This week we read three pieces--Marx, Acemoglu et al., and Allen--all arguing that very important things were happening in northwestern Europe in 1500-1800 to raise the rate of total factor productivity growth. Pick one paper. Do you think it makes a convincing case? Taking as background January 22's class, how much of a difference in the global economic trend do you think that paper's factors by themselves could have made?
Gregory Clark (2007), A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World, Chapter 2, “The Logic of the Malthusian Economy,” pp. 19-39 and Chapter 3, “Living Standards,” pp. 40-70. Princeton: Princeton University Press. On reserve at Graduate Services. An earlier draft (not preferred) is available at http://tinyurl.com/dl20090112e (chapter 2) and >http://tinyurl.com/dl20090112j> (chapter 3)
Gregory Clark (2007), A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World, Chapter 2, “The Logic of the Malthusian Economy,” pp. 19-39 and Chapter 3, “Living Standards,” pp. 40-70. Princeton: Princeton University Press. On reserve at Graduate Services. An earlier draft (not preferred) is available at http://tinyurl.com/dl20090112e (chapter 2) and http://tinyurl.com/dl20090112j (chapter 3)
Your research paper is due on Friday May 9th. In addition to sending an electronic copy to both instructors, be sure to put a copy in Professor Eichengreen’s mail box in Economics Department reception on the 5th floor of Evans Hall. The office is open 9:00-4:00. The paper should not exceed 25 pages. This deadline will not be changed; plan in advance.
The writing and submission process requires that you meet two benchmarks. You should discuss your paper topic during office hours with one of your instructors during the first half of the semester and then submit a brief paper prospectus before spring break (by 4:00 PM Friday March 14th – electronic copies to both instructors, also to Professor Eichengreen’s mailbox). That prospectus should explain why the topic is important, state your hypothesis, and describe the materials and approach that you will use to analyze it. Your paper grade will depend in part on the quality of your prospectus.
Brad DeLong (firstname.lastname@example.org OH M 1-2 W 11-12) and Barry Eichengreen (email@example.com OH Tu 1-3)
Spring 2014; University of California, Berkeley; Wednesday 1:00-3:00 p.m.; 597 Evans Hall Introduction
Economics 210a is required of Ph.D. students in the first year of the graduate program. The course is designed to introduce a selection of themes from the contemporary economic history literature ( not to present a narrative account of world economic history). Emphasis is on the insights that history can provide to the practicing economist.
Class meetings consist of a mixture of lecture and discussion. Because discussion will focus on issues raised by the assigned readings, readings should be completed before class.
Your grade will be based 50 percent on one-page memos due at the beginning of each class meetingin the instructors' mailboxes at 5 PM Tuesday, and 50 percent on the research paper (where the latter 50 percent will be based both on the synopsis you submit prior to spring break and the paper you submit at the end of instruction). Extra credit will be given for informed, constructive classroom discussion.
A memo on each week’s readings is due at the beginning of each class meetingin the instructors' mailboxes at 5 PM Tuesday before those readings are discussed. You will find the memo questions on Professor DeLong’s and Professor Eichengreen’s 210a subpages:
Typically the week’s question will be posted on the Thursday six days before the class meeting when your memo is due. The memo is due at the start of the class meeting.
Your memos should be one-page, and certainly no more than two pages (12-point type). They cannot be exhaustive or provide definitive answers. But they can explain why a question is important, and they can draw on assigned readings in an effort to answer it.
You could drop a modern economist from a time machine--a helicopter, maybe, like the one that drops the money--at any time, in any place, along with his or her personal computer; he or she could set up in business without even bothering to ask what time and which place. In a little while, the up-to-date economist will have maximized a familiar-looking present-value integral, made a few familiar log-linear approximations, and run the obligatory familiar regression. The familiar coefficients will be poorly determined, but about one-twentieth of them will be significant at the 5 percent level, and the other nineteen do not have to be published... the data are just barely consistent with your thesis adviser's hypothesis that money is neutral (or nonneutral, take your choice) everywhere and always, modulo an information asymmetry, any old information asymmetry, don't worry, you'll think of one. All right, so I exaggerate. You will recognize the kernel of truth.... Of course there are holdouts against this routine, bless their hearts...
Nobody ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate exchange of one bone for another with another dog.... When an animal wants to obtain something either of a man or of another animal, it has no other means of persuasion but to gain the favour of those whose service it requires. A puppy fawns upon its dam, and a spaniel endeavours by a thousand attractions to engage the attention of its master who is at dinner, when it wants to be fed by him. Man sometimes uses the same arts with his brethren, and when he has no other means of engaging them to act according to his inclinations, endeavours by every servile and fawning attention to obtain their good will. He has not time, however, to do this upon every occasion. In civilised society he stands at all times in need of the cooperation and assistance of great multitudes, while his whole life is scarce sufficient to gain the friendship of a few persons....
Perhaps the most interesting argument about why the demographic crisis produced by the Black Death did not lead to the reemergence of serfdom in Western Europe (as lords discovered that, with population down by 1/3, they would rather be labor lords than landlords) is that made by Perry Anderson in his book Lineages of the Absolutist State. Anderson has two arguments. His first is that the particular role of Western European towns made a formal reimposition of servile bondage impossible:
the aristocracy had to adjust to a second antagonist: the mercantile bourgeoisie... towns... the intercalation of this third presence... prevented the Western nobility from settling its accounts with the peasantry in Eastern [European] fashion, by smashing its resistance and fettering it to the manor. The medieval town... hierarchical dispersion of sovereignties... feudal mode of production... freed urban economies from direct domination by a rural ruling class.... [Urban] economic and social vitality acted as a constant, objective interference in the class struggle on the land, and blocked any regressive solution to it by the nobles." Feudal lords could agree among themselves and with the king to reimpose serfdom, but they lacked the power to do so if peasants could still (as they could in Western Europe) run to the towns for protection.