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 the history of Canadian economic thought. Here he argues that the historical roots of the staples theory enunciated by Watkins go back a little further than just Harold Innis. Learn here about the initial contributions of W.A. Mackintosh.
Who’s Your (Grand) (Read more…)
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 a bottleneck in the production process. It significantly reduced the cost of production of cotton and hence its price. The increase in the demand for cotton led to a dramatic increase in production. This in turn greatly increased the quantity demanded of slaves, particularly at
. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: What Caused the American Civil War?
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 between the advocates of balanced growth or the across-the-board big push internalizing all the demand-side externalities – and its critics. As a graduate student at MIT in the 50s I took a course on economic development – one of the first taught at least in
. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Albert Hirschman 1915-2012
“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 worldly matters from so-called academic “stars”. They’re given access to op-ed pages, interviewed on talk shows and their books widely promoted and gushed over. Few have burned as bright in this regard as Niall Ferguson, a handsome, arrogant 48-year-old Scot and one of the world’s
. . . → Read More: The Progressive Economics Forum: Just How Stupid is Niall Ferguson? Very Stupid.