Some excellent recent posts from two of the best in the Irish economics blogosphere: True Economics and Turbulence Ahead. Read more
A quick overview of Sections 1 and 3 of the IMF report on Ireland, which look at economic competitiveness, prices and wages, and taxes and public expenditure. Read more
Links for June 18, 2009, including two attacks on economists and they way they work, one on communism, a discussion of onshoring and a correlation of the day! Read more
The slides and a video interview based on my presentation at the Future Focus event, chaired by James Bellini, in Edinburgh on June 11. Read more
Some interesting links on the potential economic effects of Mexican flu, the latest evidence on how climate change may lead to large-scale migration and yet another tool from Google for researchers. Read more
Some links for today, on the topics of consumer confidence, so key to underpinning everything from jobs to VAT receipts at the moment, Google trends as a source of data, and commodity market integration (particularly in times of deglobalization). Read more
Does GDI reflect a recesssion’s turning point better than GDP? When is best to liberalize trade? And has the finance sector been gobbling up society’s talent and wages? Some recommended reading from around the web and around the world Read more
As everyone knows, economists and sociologists are the faculty equivalent of cats and dogs. As an economist, I’m more or less brought up to think that sociologists are a bit funny, really, and their models and ways of explaining the world around them good cannon fodder.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I opened this book recently – it having been part of a bulk Amazon order of titles that sounded more or less up my street – and read up on the author… a sociologist! Not only that, the book was twenty years old! Many people will stop now having learnt what I thought would be the only lesson to be learnt from this entire episode: always find out a little bit more about a book before you part money for it. In fact, I think there’s an old English saying along those lines… don’t cover a book with a judge, or something similar.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the book. I decided to do as a Baz would want me to and do one thing that particular day that scared me. Besides, not knowing an awful lot about non-European economic history during the period A.D. 1250-1350 year dot-2008, surely I’d learn something, right?
Sure enough, once I got past the fact that I’d picked out a textbook for a sociology course from the 1980s, I never looked back. The writing is structured, with chapters organised around each on of the 9 spheres of economic activity identified. The paucity of non-European data – which has indeed blinkered somewhat economic historians and cliometricians writing recently – is tackled head-on, rather than ignored. In the style of a true economic historian, she goes on the hunt for proxies to inform the scale and scope of international trade between, for example, the Indian east coast and the South-East straits.
There are a few annoying habits throughout the book – a bit of name-dropping or over-indulgence in highly theoretical or fringe debates, particularly in the notes – but this is an excellent introduction to a fascinating period in world history. Particular points of interest include:
- the analysis of China and its technological advances and wealth of records
- the Middle East, the fascinating Genizah haul from medieval Cairo, and how the ban on usury was overcome by Muslim traders
- and the emergence of Europe from its Roman imperial shadow and taking its place among the world system (before, ahem, re-making the entire system in its own image)
So, while cats and dogs may still not be on best terms, a few more books like this will put paid to Disney’s plans to release ‘Economists and Sociologists’!