Saturday, February 28, 2009

Poll: the best title for an Economics paper

I came across "Poor, Hungry and Stupid: Numeracy and the Impact of High Food Prices in Industrializing Britain, 1780-1850" and it remind me the role of a good title. A title that forces you to read the whole paper. From the top of my mind, I suggest two contestants: "I just ran two million regressions" and "Das Human Kapital". Any suggestion?

Friday, February 27, 2009

"It is the demography, stupid"

The homicide rate in São Paulo dropped from 52 to 24 per 100.000 between 1999 and 2005. The usual explanations were quite unconvincing, but João Manoel Pinho De Mello and Alexandre Schneider have shown that changes in the demographic structure of the population can explain a large share of that drop. A must read if you are interested in violence in Brazil.

University of California at Berkeley: two syllabus

I bet that there will be no empty seats at Prof. Eichengreen's The World Economy in the Twentieth Century and at Prof.Voth's Financial Crises, Bubbles, and Crashes

HT Brad Delong.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Private Tooth Decay as Public Economic Virtue

The paper starts with a quote from Thomas and Bean (1974):
The only group of clear gainers of British trans-atlantic slave trade, and even those gains were small, were European consumers of sugar and tobacco and other plantation crops. They were given the chance to purchase dental decay and lung cancer at somewhat lower price than would have been the case without the slave trade.
And takes another direction, arguing for the role of sugar as a mass-consumption commodity in the protoindustrialization of Europe.
HT to Brad Delong. You must read the general notes of his class.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Whipple's index in R

The index measures the degree of age heaping in demographic data. Joerg Baten have been applying it to appraise the numeracy of historical populations. Surely there is neater way to do it, but here is the code in R that I've just written:
tmp1<-data[data>=23 & data<=62]

Monday, February 23, 2009

Graph of regression results

Thanks to the R code written by the guys at Tables2Graphs (take a look at the blog of Eduardo Leoni, one of the authors), I've managed to get the graph bellow. It represents the estimated coefficients of a regression concerning the height of workers born between 1889-1921 and registered at Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Click here for amazing R graphs.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

É Carnaval!!!

There is an alternative if you can not do the samba. You may join the contest "Dance your PhD". The winners of 2009 are here. Take a look at "Cerebral activation patterns induced by inflection of regular and irregular verbs with positron emission tomography. A comparison between single subject and group analysis". It is a perfect substitute for the written thesis (I guess).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Marx and the current crisis

{Sigh} Oh boy... I've never thought that I would miss the good old Internet hoaxes. The quote bellow just hit my mail box:
"Owners of capital will stimulate the working class to buy more and more of expensive goods, houses and technology, pushing them to take more and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks, which will have to be nationalised, and the State will have to take the road which will eventually lead to communism (Das Kapital, 1867)"
My research assistant confirms that - not surprisingly - Marx never wrote this.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cuture and Development

"...we still suffer from vestigial traces of a prejudice against 'trade', left over from the days when the aristocracy and landed gentry lived off the rents from their land and estates, and did not engage in anything so vulgar as the making and selling of goods."
A pretty good portrait of Brazil, isn't it? Due to its history, the Brazilian culture opposes entrepreneurship or money making activities, and this has been an obstacle for development. Damn Portuguese colonization! At least this is what lots of people say...
Funny enough, the quote above is about the English and not the Brazilians! The author, Kate Fox, shows that traces of a aristocracy mentality explain many issues of contemporary English people. ( Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour, an excellent anthropology for non-anthropologists - book. Strongly recommended.)
The English prejudice against trade didn't hinder the Industrial Revolution at all. My point is that, by the same token, the aristocratic and slave-holding mentality of Brazilians is not the reason why the country fell behind. Well, but this is only my opinion.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Economist on Darwin

A great article on the Theory of Evolution, that deals with the precursors of the idea. Here scientists tell what would do if they had dinner with Mr. Darwin.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Economic History Blog

(Memo to myself: update blogroll. Stop procrastinating)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Why do I learn French?

The reason is not the music, food or tourism. Some time ago, I grabbed a copy of Leroy-Beaulieu's De la colonisation chez les peuples modernes (1874) . It seems that he created the concept of "colonies of settlement" and "colonies of exploitation" (Roscher may have said something similar. I bought his book, but I gave up learning German 20 years ago). Every schoolboy in Brazil learns the diference between exploitation and settlement colonies thanks to Caio Prado Jr, a marxist historian. One day, I may write about the intelectual evolution of these concepts. A possible title of the paper: "From Roscher to Acemoglu"...Would anyone like to participate in this project?

(There was another reason to learn Frech: reading Thisse et al. textbook on Regional Economics, but I've just found out that it has been published in English as well. )

Friday, February 6, 2009

Inequality and Innovation in the US

From Our Own Correspondent is the best radio show since the day that Marconi had a great working day. BBC journalists analyse current affairs around the world based on their personal experiences. In a recent edition, Justin Webb starts with the sad fact that his child had just been diagnosed with diabetes to write about inequality, profit, and innovation in America.
(While you are there, check out this one on Fortaleza, Brazil)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Gmail offline!


The Consolation of Economic History

Brad Delong, the wise, writes:

The current recession may turn into a small depression, and may push global living standards down by five percent for one or two or (we hope not) five years, but that does not erase the gulf between those of us in the globe's middle and upper classes and all human existence prior to the Industrial Revolution.
The 18th Century British family could buy 17 copies of the Wealth of Nations out of its annual income. The American family in 2009 can buy 6,000 copies: a multiplication factor of 350.
I'm convinced that everyone I know can easily imagine how to spend up to three times their current income usefully and productively. (It is only beyond three times your current spending that people judge others' spending as absurd and wasteful.) And everybody I know finds it very difficult to imagine how people can survive on less than one-third of what they spend—never mind that all of our pre-industrial ancestors did so all the time.

Sunday, February 1, 2009