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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

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Teaser απ' το έπος του οικονομολόγου Daron Acemoglu, που μπορείτε να διαβάσετε online. [Read More]

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Farrar Richardson

Hmmmm, there are a few debatable points in that thumbnail history. e.g. It seems to me that economic growth did not really take off in the USA until an economic elite had been created after the Civil War.

Granted, however that the conditions and institutions were probably in place pre-war.

Also, the post war period was one of high and rising tariffs. Did this help or hinder?

MT57

I am puzzled by the assertion (which, from this excerpt, seems important to all that follows) that there was NOT a strong economic or political elite in the United States circa 1800. I suppose one ought to know what the author means by "strong" but there were certainly propertied elites throughout all the colonies and the south appears to have been highly stratified along property lines (e.g., some had slaves as property and slaves had no property). If the argument is one or both of (1) there was not one single elite dominating every aspect of the nation's life, or (2) the new country's limitations on government afforded more opportunities to participate in growth than other systems that existed at the time, by restricting the appropriation by force of those opportunities, those propositions are more supportable than the "no strong elite" proposition. But I think the real answer is (3) the physical gift of a wide-open, undeveloped and abundant continent enabled economic growth (in a way that cannot be repeated today anywhere); moreover, that abundance also rapidly rewarded and thus reinforced ideologies that justified exploitation of those resources.

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There are also examples of Third World countries other than Japan where the ruling elites very much wanted to industrialize, such as Mahomet Ali's introduction of cotton mills into early 19th Century Egypt and the pro-Enlightenment dictator of Paraguay who pushed education hard.

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