The Journal of European Economic History - 2016 issue 1

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The Stall and New Start of the 1950s: European Integration at the Crossroads

In memoriam
Peter Mathias CBE (1928-2016)
Peter Mathias rose to fill some of the most prestigious and influential academic positions in the UK and was one of the leading economic historians of his generation in Europe. His academic career began shortly after the end of the Second World War when he won a scholarship to Jesus College, Oxford, where he studied economic history under the direction of Charles Wilson.

Inequality (Un)perceived: The Emergence of a Discourse on Economic Inequality from the Middle Ages to the Age of Revolution
Recent research suggests that inequality increased almost continuously from the Middle Ages until the Industrial Revolution. In this article we explore whether this reflects a change in how an unequal distribution of property/income was perceived. Using large databases of manuscripts and printed editions covering ca. 1100-1830, we measure the occurrences over time of keywords bearing on the notions of equality/inequality. We then analyze key texts in depth to discover how and when these keywords acquired an economic meaning. Lastly, we relate changes in meaning to changes in levels of economic inequality. We demonstrate that the notions of equality/ inequality acquired economic meanings only over a long span of time. This process intensified in the decades preceding the French Revolution, suggesting that changes in inequality levels helped to brew political upheaval in the Age of Revolution.
Towards an Orderly Society. Capitalist Planning and Corporatist Ideology in Britain in the Great Slump (1931-1934)
Much of the current literature on Corporatism pays particular attention to the international diffusion of corporatist ideas and practices, especially focusing on fascist and authoritarian regimes and movements appeared in Europe and Latin America during the 20th century. Retrieving the idea of Corporatism elaborated by P. Schmitter, this article argues that Corporatism was not only an element of Fascist ideology, thus suggesting a more fruitful cross-national and cross-political analysis. Following this approach, the attention is on the British post-1929 crisis intellectual scenario, and on the corporatist principles underpinning the Political and Economic Planning group plans between 1931 and 1934 and its legislative proposal entitled Self-Government Industry Bill. Finally, the article discusses how the PEP ideas could be considered a non-fascist part of the inter-war global corporatist network.
Regulation and Stability of Banks in Large-scale Crises: An Historical Approach
The traditional debate on the effect of regulation on banks’ business model has gained renewed attention today. The historical evidence suggests that the constraints imposed on banks after a crisis must be carefully calibrated in order to allow them to optimise profitability and to secure their assets.
This paper discusses the influence of regulations and stability ratios on banks’ business model during large-scale crises. Examining the situation both pre- and post-crisis serves for more detailed study of the efficiency of regulatory requirements. The analytical intent is to determine the most efficient ways to restore financial stability. In other words, the question is the extent to which the stability ratios must be internalized by banking institutions in order to prevent financial instability.

Reconsidering Craft Guilds in Times of Decline: Regional Institutions and Urban Textile Artisans in Seventeenth-Century Aragon
Based on a regional case study, this article argues that craft guilds were able to respond adaptively to economic and institutional changes. Such flexibility limited their independent and regular impact on regional or national economies in early modern Europe. Having contributed to economic growth in the sixteenth century, the Aragonese textile guilds fell prey to technological stagnation in the seventeenth and restricted competition in urban product and labour markets as the region’s economy contracted. Their actions thus undermined quality and increased the cost of domestic manufactures. The regional institutions nevertheless tolerated these strategies within certain limits, because they saw the guilds as necessary to the organization of urban markets and production.

How Can We Measure Sub-National Institutions? Some Ideas and Empirical Tests on European Regions, 1870-1910
Institutions are the dominant explanation of differences in economic performance between countries. One important criticism of institutional explanations is that institutions are national and thus cannot account for sub-national (regional) economic inequality. Another is that institutions cannot be empirically measured in a satisfactory manner. This paper offers some preliminary ideas in response to both criticisms. First, regional-level constraints on the executive are modelled as spatial-decay functions of national-level constraints on the executive. Second, the efficiency of institutions in distributing goods is modelled as a production frontier function. The ideas are empirically tested on industrialising Europe, when economic differentials between and within nations were widening. In putting forward two novel methods of institutional measurement and focusing on sub-national units of observation, this paper chiefly contributes to the debate on institutional measurement. In its empirical test, it makes use of a novel dataset on literacy rates for 199 European regions of seven countries over three benchmark years.

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