Journal of European Economic History - 2020 issue 2


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Means of Payment and Degree of Monetization: A Suggestion and an Application to the Case of Portugal
Given that the characteristics of the sets of means of payment available to economic agents at a given moment supply decisive information about the degree of monetization of the economy, this paper first proposes a technique to analyse these characteristics, considering their amplitude, purchasing power and density, and then applies that technique to the evolution of the monetary system of Portugal in the course of its existence as an independent country. The Portuguese case is an interesting standard for international comparisons, because it evolved over a very long time span, and sharply different degrees of monetization may be identified within it: (i) an epoch of low or negligible monetization (12th-15th century); (ii) monetization of a significant and gradually increasing part of the economy (15th-19th century); and (iii) almost full monetization (19th century on).
A Prominent Figure in the Creation of the Suez Canal: Luigi Negrelli (1799-1858)
The essential role of Luigi Negrelli (1799-1858) in planning the Suez Canal project – then realised by tens of thousands of Egyptian and European workers with the commitment of the Compagnie universelle du canal maritime de Suez headed by Ferdinand de Lesseps – was perfectly clear when the work was completed 150 years ago. In the years that followed, however, Negrelli fell into oblivion and his figure was not revisited until the first half of the 20th century, and then in a series of markedly nationalistic studies that misrepresented his image and role. During the interwar period, on the wave of claims to national grandeur, Negrelli was depicted as an “Italian genius” at the service of Risorgimento ideals that he actually had no part of. Meanwhile some German writings, driven by the same nationalistic demagogy, likewise improperly claimed a distinctly German origin for him. Even some recent studies in European cultural publications have been imprecise and totally inadequate in depicting the man and his role. Drawing on abundant, previously unexploited documents produced by Negrelli himself, this paper offers a new interpretation of the role of this eminent engineer. It traces his engagement in the realisation of a series of railways in Europe and his fundamental role in the design of the Suez Canal, identifying him as a distinguished economist and technician of transportation.
Shadowing the Latin Monetary Union: Monetary Regimes and Interest Rates in the Balkan Periphery (1867-1912)
In this study we reconstruct the Balkan countries’ monetary relations with Western Europe in the period of the Latin Monetary Union (LMU), particularly from 1867 to 1912. We concentrate on the complex puzzle of LMU and its relations with the Balkans within the theoretical framework of dependent capitalism, reduced to “the incompatibility hypothesis”, based on which we analyse the dynamics of interest rates on the Balkan countries’ foreign debt. Our original monthly database (1875-1912) shows that the Balkan countries wishing to join the LMU at the end of the 19th century were asymmetric in relation to the core countries (France, Italy, Belgium and Switzerland). Their incorporation into the LMU created an agio between gold and silver. Monetary union required a policy of stringency in the Balkan countries if they were to converge toward the core, but their remoteness from the centre (both geographical and economic) consigned them to the periphery.
Ad impossibilia nemo tenetur. Notes on Giulio Andreotti and Europe. A Rejoinder
The chapter describes – based on Giulio Andreotti’s personal papers – the decision by the Italian government of the day, taken in the course of the extraordinary council of 27-28 October 1990 in Rome during the semester under the Italian presidency, to agree to the adoption of a single currency. Actually, however, the documents do not directly reflect Andreotti’s thoughts on the issue. The interpretative scope of the chapter is accordingly limited: the idea was to show how the Italian government conducted the negotiations within the European institutions in the preparation of the Maastricht treaty and its ratification, not to consider the effects of EMU on the Italian economy, nor to express my personal opinion concerning the decision.
Decline and Recovery of the Italian Gun-Making District in the Nineteenth Century. A Comparative Analysis of the Role of Public Authorities and Factories
In the nineteenth century, the production of small arms underwent significant technological change. Faced with new needs, both qualitative and quantitative, governments began to pursue the modernization of production processes through mechanization and vertical integration. These technological advances, chief of which was the American System of Manufacturing developed in US arsenals, had a significant impact on the long-established European gun-making districts, where craft producers had to deal with disturbances and crises. The study focuses on the Italian district and the key factors in its resilience, with a contextual, comparative analysis within a broader framework comprising the UK and Spain. The research demonstrates that public authorities and factories can play a crucial role in determining change and resilience in industrial districts.
The “Flats-for-Land” System in Greece. An Idiosyncratic Equity Financing Mechanism in the Post-War Period
The “flats-for-land” system was an equity financing mechanism extensively used in Greece following World War II to alleviate the acute housing crisis caused by mass migration from the countryside to big cities. Drawing on historical evidence and using a parsimonious VAR model, we show that the mechanism significantly stimulated housing production and accelerated Greece's vertical urban expansion, despite the country's underdeveloped banking system and even in the absence of state financing.
Editor's Introductory Note
The Staffelsee Inventory. Carolingian Manorial Economy, Mobility of Peasants, and “Pockets of Functional Continuity” in the Transition from Antiquity to the Middle Ages
Sergio Cortesini
One day we must meet. Le sfide dell'arte e dell'architettura italiane in America (1933-1941)
Jacopo Calussi

James Crotty
Keynes Against Capitalism. His Economic Case for Liberal Socialism
Antonio Magliulo

Agostino Giovagnoli (ed.)
L'Italia e gli italiani dal 1948 al 1978
Renato Raffaele Amoroso

Roberto Giulianelli
L'economista utile. Vita di Giorgio Fuà
Francesco Dandolo

Simone Misiani, Cristóbal Gómez Benito (eds.)
Construyendo la nación: Reforma agraria y modernización rural en la Italia del siglo XX
Niccolò Mignemi

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