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Archive for 'economic history'

(Macro) Econ 101

On December 2, Chris Ragan wrote a column for the Globe and Mail titled “Another (Macro) Defense of Econ 101.”  The link to his column is available here .  My brief reply was published in the Globe and Mail on December 13.  The full version is below: Professor Ragan defends conventional (macro) Econ 101 as a pedagogical tool […]

Economics 101

On October 21, Chris Ragan wrote a column for the Globe and Mail titled “In defence of Economics 101.”  The link to his column is available here. On October 24, Marc Lavoie, Louis-Philippe Rochon and Mario Seccareccia replied to him.  The link to their response is available here.

Impact of Fur Trade in U.S.

The fur trade in Canada is often said to have been less malign than in the US, and it was, but that doesn’t say much given the extraordinary disruption it is said to have createn in colonial America by the American historian Bernard Bailyn in his recent (2012) book, appropriately titled The Barbarous Years: The […]

Call for Research

“The interpretation of the history of North America in terms of rum and brandy has not been written, but in the fur trade, rum represented the contribution of the West Indies to trade of the Old Empire, and brandy the emphasis on French vineyards and self-sufficienty.” Innis, 1933 So far as I know, still not […]

Review of Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty (Belknap Press, 2014) is the economics publishing sensation of our times, especially in the United States. Currently the number one seller on the US Amazon web site and widely debated in the “blogosphere”, this long book is being favourably compared to the seminal works of Adam Smith, […]

Pikkety on Capital in the 21st Century (Tom Palley)

I have just finished Piketty’s magnum opus which is clearly one of the most important economic books of our time. I am still trying to digest the theoretical argument. Below I provide a link and intro to an important commentary by Tom Palley who argues that Pikkety is too close to the neo classical paradigm […]

Fur trade and tar sands

Here is Joseph Boyden talking with the Globe and Mail last fall about his novel Orenda: “You look at this novel and you think immigration, who you allow in and who you don’t. The Hurons allow in the ones who ulimately destroy them, because the Huron aren’t perfect either. They need the trade, and how […]

Neoliberalism in Canada: 3 moments, 3 indicators

The current edition of Canadian Dimension magazine has a fascinating series of articles on episodes of economic transition around the world (more of them bad than good in recent times, of course).  It’s a very thoughtful & informative collection, and I highly recommend it (and every progressive economist should subscribe to CD, by the way). […]

What Have we Learned From the Financial Crisis? Part 4: Bernard Vallageas

What follows are comments from a roundtable discussion held at the University of Ottawa on February 28, organized by Mario Seccareccia, and which featured participation from Marc Lavoie, Louis-Philippe Rochon, Mario Seccareccia, Slim Thabet and Bernard Vallageas. This is Part 4 of 5 sequential blog entries. – Bernard Vallageas Vice-président de l’Association pour le Développement des Etudes Keynésiennes […]

What Have we Learned From the Financial Crisis? Part 3: Mario Seccareccia

What follows are comments from a roundtable discussion held at the University of Ottawa on February 28, organized by Mario Seccareccia, and which featured participation from Marc Lavoie, Louis-Philippe Rochon, Mario Seccareccia, Slim Thabet and Bernard Vallageas. This is Part 3 of 5 sequential blog entries. – Mario Seccareccia Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa Editor, International […]

What Have we Learned From the Financial Crisis? Part 2: Louis-Philippe Rochon

What follows are comments from a roundtable discussion held at the University of Ottawa on February 28, organized by Mario Seccareccia, and which featured participation from Marc Lavoie, Louis-Philippe Rochon, Mario Seccareccia, Slim Thabet and Bernard Vallageas. This is Part 2 of 5 sequential blog entries. – Louis-Philippe Rochon Associate Professor of Economics, Laurentian University Founding co-editor, […]

What Have we Learned From the Financial Crisis? Part 1: Marc Lavoie

What follows are comments from a roundtable discussion held at the University of Ottawa on February 28, organized by Mario Seccareccia, and which featured participation from Marc Lavoie, Louis-Philippe Rochon, Mario Seccareccia, Slim Thabet and Bernard Vallageas. Parts 2, 3, 4 and 5 will follow in subsequent blog posts. – Marc Lavoie Professor of Economics, University of Ottawa […]

The Staple Theory @ 50: Hugh Grant

As part of our continuing series of special commentaries marking the 50th anniversary of the publication of Mel Watkins’ classic article, “A Staple Theory of Economic Development,” we present the following contribution by Hugh Grant from the Economics Dept. at the University of Winnipeg.  Grant is a former student of Mel’s, and an important chronicler of […]

What Caused the American Civil War?

One hundred and fifty years ago Americans were fighting a most bloody civil war. There were serious persons then and now that blamed the war on Eli Whitney for his invention of the cotton gin in 1794. While Whitney’s gin directly reduced the demand for slaves to separate cotton fibre from the seeds, it broke […]

Albert Hirschman 1915-2012

Albert Hirschman died in December of last year at the grand old age of 97. I never had the pleasure of meeting him but I was an avid reader of his writings and much influenced by them. In the 1950s and 1960s, as the field of economic development emerged within economics, there was a debate […]

Just How Stupid is Niall Ferguson? Very Stupid.

“But the real point of me isn’t that I’m good looking. It’s that I’m clever. I’ve got a brain! I would rather be called a highly intelligent historian than a gorgeous pouting one” – Harvard historian Niall Ferguson, Sept. 2011. One of the predictable habits of the mainstream media is to seek out opinions on […]

The Curious Case of Guano as a Staple

Peru – the heart of the Inca Empire – and thereabouts is where the potato originated, to be spread around the world after Europeans ‘discovered’ it. Off Peru’s coast a “weird trick of climate and topogrophy” created “[s]warms of anchovies (which) fed the birds that produced the guano that fertilized the fields that yielded such […]

Empire and Trade

Empires vary: of conquest, of settlement, of trade; contiguous and maritime. Empires abound: a long list, longer even than many books on empire admit to. Wikipedia lists over 200 empires from the Akkadian Empire of Sargon the Great in the 24th century BCE to today’s American Empire. In terms of territory the largest are the […]

William Watson on PSE

On Wednesday, William Watson wrote a comment piece in the Financial Post in which he was critical of Armine Yalnizyan’s recent essay on inequality. In his piece, Mr. Watson alleges that Armine “is guilty of fantastical reminiscence,” particularly with respect to her take on post-secondary education (PSE). Among other things, Mr. Watson points to the […]

Mythologies: Money and Hyperinflation

In an earlier post, Marc Lee mentioned in passing the German hyperinflation episode of the 1920s. It’s remarkable that this event still holds such sway over the popular imagination despite other more recent instances of hyperinflation. Certainly, the imagery is powerful: German citizens pushing wheelbarrows full of worthless paper money around for everyday purchases, banknotes […]

The Myth of Expansionary Austerity

As the US and Europe turn from stimulus to fiscal austerity, claims are heard that spending cuts actually stimulate economic growth. That is the argument heard, not just from the Republicans in the US Congress, but also from the Obama Administration who have pretty much stopped listening to even mainstream macro-economists. And it is the argument […]

Can cooperatives humanize our economy?

Book Review of Humanizing the Economy: Cooperatives in the Age of Capital, by John Restakis, New Society Publishers, 2010. The economy is about business, right? Sure, we have a dynamic mixed economy, and most people support decent social programs and government intervention to protect the environment or to improve living conditions for the poorest. In […]

Depressing Protectionism?

The notion that tariffs caused the Great Depression has been repeatedly invoked in opposition to allegedly protectionist policies and to press ahead with deregulatory “free trade” deals. Also, the current collapse of international trade is sometimes cited to suggest a rising tide of protectionism today. Yesterday, Paul Krugman had an excellent post debunking the underlying […]

Cyclonic Booms, Inevitable Busts, Staples to the Rescue…and Cities Where the Action Is

The American scholar Alfred Crosby writes of the neo-Europes, the offshoots of Europe, the products of the settling of the New World while unsettling those whose world it already was. James Belich, an historian – who writes like an economic historian – of New Zealand now teaching in Australia, has written a massive and splendid […]