Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy December 25th!

There is a good reason to celebrate.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

News...

- I would like to apologize to my three and a half readers for not posting. It is almost the end of the term and things are really busy. So the blog will be on hold for a while.
-Ubuntu is doing fine. Compiz is running full throttle and I am able to do 99% of the things that I used to, but much faster. I think that I will never go back to Windows.
- Today I am going to the 1er Congreso Latinoamericano de Historia Económica in Montevideo. My expectations are quite high. Many dear friends will be there giving papers. Moreover, I will be the first time that I will meet researchers like Roberto Cortés Conde, James Robinson and others.
- Otávio Damé, my former undergrad student and research assistant at UFPel, has won the Controladoria Geral da União monographs prize. Congratulations to him and his advisor, André Carraro!
- See you soon!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My Ubuntu experience- day 1

A few problems:
Hardware: I could not manage to solve an issue with the graphics card. Therefore the extended screen (or "extended desktop" for windows user) is not working.
Software:I lost 1 hour trying to figure out how to run R. How stupid I am... It is so easy.
The reaplayer plug-in is not working. Ok. I guess I can stand one more day without listening to the BBC.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

My Ubuntu experience- day 0

Ubuntu is running like a breeze. In fact, I've spent 4 hours backing up Vista and my stuff, but the Ubuntu installation took me less than one hour.
Sure there are many things that do not work and I haven't noticed yet. But I have a whole week-end to sort it out... I will keep you informed.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Going Ubuntu

I can not stand Vista anymore. I am a proud owner of a Thinkpad T61, but after 3 months I noticed that things are just getting worse. Vista has lots of bugs, crashes a lot and it is painfully slow.
This week, Vinícius, a geek student of mine, convinced me to try Ubuntu. I downloaded the iso file, burned a CD-ROM and ran it. Everything went surprisingly smooth. In minutes, without any configuration, the notebook was wireless connected and running Firefox faster than ever. I tried OpenOffice and it opened a huge doc file with track changes without any problem.
So, this week-end I am going Ubuntu. In order to prepare for this historical moment, I have printed the instructions and I've downloaded the episodes of Going Linux podcast. This show is co-hosted by Serge Rey, the über economic geographer. (Update: I've just noticed that Serge has his own podcast on Linux installation!)
Any suggestion or advice?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Institutions matter. Really?

What are the causes of the Industrial Revolution? It is amazing that THE most important event in human history remains a mystery. Gregory Clark and James "Reversal of Fortune" Robinson take opposite sides on the issue. Greg has a point when he says that institutions are not everything, but I think he takes his point too far. Robinson is much more convincing.
(Daniel Brook criticizes the weakest point in Farewell to Alms: the biological factors behind the Industrial Revolution)

Rio de Janeiro, 1936


The city looks like a tropical Paris. But the movie is quite misleading. In 1936 Brazil:
- Income per capita was a fifth of the today's
-Life expectancy at birth was 36 years (Arriaga);
- 57% of the population was illiterate;
- Infant mortality was 150 per thousand. Today:28/1000.
I do not miss Brazil in the thirties.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Free trade & the size of government

Kevin O'Rourke is among the top economic historians. His papers with Jeffrey Williamson on the history of globalisation and the role of tariffs are a must.
Now he has turned his attention to the determinants of individual attitudes toward free trade. In a new paper, he and his coauthors show that "government expenditure can boost support for free trade."

Via Vox EU.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Day of the Dead and the Dismal Science

"Finados", a national holiday in Brazil, is not as entertaining as the Dia de los Muertos in Mexico. So, the post today will be quite morbid.
What is the monetary value of a death of a loved one? That is, what is the monetary value that would take you back to the same indifferent curve? Instead of asking people, this study used happiness studies to calculate it. The results are surprising:

Your partner has the highest value and it worths more than the sum of the your mother and father! Policy recommendation: take care of your partner. He/She is much more important for your happiness than you think.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

From Our Own Correspondent

I listen to the radio about 8 hours a day and FOOC is my favorite radio show. Twice a week ,BBC journalists all over the world tell their personal experiences. Last week, Alan Johnston told his 114 day ordeal in Gaza. Podcast it and take a look at the website that celebrates 50th year of the show.

Friday, October 26, 2007

World Congress of RSAI - Reminder

Deadline approaching for the 2008 World Congress of RSAI in Brazil

Submit your paper at www.aber.fea.usp.br/rsai2008

The 8th World Congress of RSAI will be organized by the Brazilian Regional Science Association (ABER – Associação Brasileira de Estudos Regionais) and will be hosted by the Faculty of Economics, Administration and Accounting of the University of São Paulo, Brazil (www.fea.usp.br), on March 17-19, 2008.

It will have the same format as the regular RSA meetings, with regular sessions, R-sessions, panels, etc.

Papers from all fields in regional science are welcome.

Submit your paper at www.aber.fea.usp.br/rsai2008.

RSAI World Congress 2008 Local Organizing Committee

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bad Geography and Development in Africa

In a QJE forthcoming paper, Nathan Nunn has shown the legacy of slave trade in the current development of Africa. Now he goes one step further. With Diego Puga, the brilliant New Economic Geographer, he has written a paper that argues that the rugged terrain "afforded protection to those being raided during the slave trades. Since the slave trades retarded subsequent economic development, in Africa ruggedness also has had a historical indirect positive effect on income". The title of the paper is: "Ruggedness: The Blessing of Bad Geography in Africa".

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Why do we like beer?

Because the guys that couldn't stand alcohol died of dysentery a long ago. This is just one of the things that I've learned in "The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World". The logic goes like this: polluted water is a major threat to human beings, so...
"In a community lacking pure-water supplies, the closest thing to "pure" fluid" was alcohol. Whatever the risks were posed by beer (and later wine) in the early days of agrarian settlements were more than offset by alcohol's antibacterial properties. Dying of cirrhosis of the liver in your forties was better than dying of dysentery in your twenties... To digest large quantities of (alcohol), you need to be able to boost production of enzymes called alcohol dehydrogenases, a trait regulated by a set of genes on chromosome four in human DNA. Many early agrarians lacked that trait, and thus were genetically incapable of "holding their liquor". Consequently, many of them died childless at an early age, either from alcohol abuse or from waterborne diseases... Most of the world's population is made up of descendants of those early beer drinkers, and we have largely inherited their genetic tolerance to alcohol."

BTW, I strongly recommend the book. It provides an amazing account of the role of scientific preconceptions, and it tells the story of the map that started Spatial Analysis. Spoiler: it is a myth that John Snow discovered the source of cholera after drawing his famous map. In fact, he draw it to convince the others that water, and not, miasma was responsible for the spreading of the disease.

I am not sure, but I think this is Art

Solow Growth Model on-line

Brad DeLong has uploaded to google docs his famousspreadsheet that represents the Solow model.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Predictably irrational

It seems that the 2008 blockbuster book will be Predictably Irrational. After all 4 Economics Nobel prize winners - and the mother of the author - strongly recommend the book.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Doing Business 2008


Brazil occupies a grim 122th place. But the map is really cool!

New Input Output Table for Rio Grande do Sul

Great news for those interested in the economy of Rio Grande do Sul. Alexandre Porsse has released the 2003 input-output table (in Portuguese).

Monday, October 8, 2007

A conceptual framework for interpreting human history

The forthcoming book by Douglass North, John Wallis and Barry Weingast is available on-line.
In one week the primitive accumulation of pdf files has added 1700 pages to my pile of must read pages.

Via Na Prática.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Acemoglu and the Hawking's Value

If you have read any economic blog this week, you know that Daron Acemoglu's book is available on-line. I am sure that its 1,169 pages are excellent and that it will become the standard graduate textbook on economic growth.
However, I can't help thinking about its Hawking's Value (as I've decided to called it). HV goes like this:

HV=number of copies sold or downloaded*(a/b)

a=number of pages of the book;
b=average number of pages actually read and understood.

For instance, Hawking's Brief History of Time sold 10 million copies of 200 pages each, but the number of pages actually read were, say, around 1 (one). Therefore it has a HV= 2,000,000,000, the highest in history . Back to Acemoglu's book: how many pdf files will rest unopened/unread in our hard disks?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

R 101

If you want to learn R, take a look at this R video tutorial.

Via Andrew Gelman and friends.

Income per capita by country 1-2003

GDP per capita when Jesus was walking around? Check out the new version of the Maddison's database: World Population, GDP and Per Capita GDP, 1-2003 AD.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Duílio meets Deirdre

I met Professor Duílio Berni about 10 years ago and he quickly became my intellectual lighthouse. We do not share research interests and I have the feeling that I understand only half of his main points. But every talk with him gives me food for thought for at least one year and the books that he suggests are mind blowing. (Having him as my neighbour in London was one of fondest memories of my sabbatical year).
I've never met Deirdre Mcloskey, but she taught me how to write and research. Her Economic History papers are even better than the methodology ones that made her famous.
Reading Deirdre's blog I had the surprise of finding a question posed by Duílio. He wants to know the reference of the following Deirdre's quote:

"Replete of prices and profits, acres and hand, economic science is the most measurable of all social sciences”.

What a amazing quote! Deirdre did not provide the answer and told Duílio to look for it in her on-line papers.I suspect that there is a non-zero probability that, in fact, Duílio wrote it, but it would be great if somebody could help him find it.

Update: Deirdre's blog is not working today (2nd October). Not my fault, hopefully.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Reports of my dissapearance have been greatly exaggerated...

I'm back. I've underestimated the time and energy necessary to get my life back on track in Brazil. From now on, I will try update the blog daily.
So, let's start with an upbeat post. Scott "Dilbert" Addams, the genius, wrote a sort of eulogy for economists:

"I studied economics in college. One thing I’ve noticed is that other people who have studied economics tend to think a similar way. Some of the similarity is probably because it takes a certain kind of person to be interested in economics in the first place. But I’m convinced that the study of economics changes brains in a way I can identify after about five minutes of conversation. In particular, I think the study of economics makes you relatively immune to cognitive dissonance.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

The primary skill of an economist is identifying all of the explanations for various phenomena. Cognitive dissonance is, at its core, the inability to recognize and accept other explanations. I’m oversimplifying, but you get the point. The more your brain is trained for economics, the less it is susceptible to cognitive dissonance, or so it seems.

The joke about economists is that they are always using the phrase “On the other hand.” Economists are trained to recognize all sides of an argument. That seems like an easy and obvious skill, but in my experience, the general population lacks that skill. Once people take a side, they interpret any argument on the other side as absurd. In other words, they are relatively susceptible to cognitive dissonance."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Brad Delong at EHA

Delong's talk is available here.
(My blogging activity has been low. Sorry for that.)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Pure Bliss

Yesterday, Joel Mokyr, Richard Easterlin, Jeffrey Williamson and Brad Delong debated the role of economic history on economic policy. Amazing. One of the best sentences:
"Theory is distilled history."
Brad Delong

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Coase Workshop 2008

I strongly recommend applying to the event (and to the fellowship). I have very fond memories of the workshop that happened in Rio many years ago:
The Ronald Coase Institute
First Asia Workshop on Institutional Analysis
January 5-10, 2008 Singapore

Co-sponsored by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy/
Asia Competitiveness Institute, National University of Singapore
Apply by September 30, 2007

Attend this inaugural workshop in Asia to
• Learn more about institutional analysis
• Present your current research and receive comments from established scholars
• Become part of a worldwide network of institutional scholars.

Who is eligible?
• Postdoctoral social scientists - early in their careers
• Advanced graduate students - in economics, political science, and other social sciences
• Scholars from developing/transitional countries in Asia are particularly invited to apply.
Participants will be selected on the basis of their research abstracts. Admission is strictly limited,
and the pace is intense. Participants must attend all sessions and give as well as receive feedback.

As a participant, you will
Hear established scholars discuss their strategies to formulate research questions, design
projects, and draw important and practical conclusions.
Make two presentations of your own research
(1) in a small group, receiving faculty guidance
(2) after revisions, to the entire workshop, with discussion following.
Network through close, informal contacts with faculty and workshop alumni from
50 countries who have an enduring interest in institutional analysis.

How to apply (deadline September 30, 2007)
E-mail an abstract - 350 words maximum - of a current research project of yours, plus
a one-page curriculum vitae, to workshop2008sg@coase.org. Work already published
is not eligible.

At the top of your abstract, list the title, your name, and the number of words in the abstract.
Any co-authors must be listed here.

On your one-page CV, list your current professional status and the academic degrees you have
received, with university, year, and field of study. Also include your citizenship, date of birth,
and country of residence. Give as references the names, e-mail addresses, and telephone numbers
of two scholars familiar with you and your work.

As e-mail subject line, use Application for 2008 Singapore Workshop. Please attach your
abstract and CV as Microsoft Word files, using filenames yyy abstract.doc and yyy cv.doc
where yyy is your surname.

Abstracts will be judged on the clarity and importance of the research question, and on their institutional focus. Please do not submit any longer documents, as they will not be read.

Costs
The cost of the workshop - tuition and meals - is $2395 USD. This does not include hotel accommodations or travel expenses.

Some fellowships will be awarded competitively to scholars from developing and transitional countries, for tuition, meals, and hotel accommodations. If you wish to be considered for a fellowship, you must state that in your application. Tuition and meal costs for participants who are Singaporeans, Singapore permanent residents, or faculty members of Singapore universities will be covered through the sponsors.

At the close of the workshop, participants may submit papers based on their workshop projects
to the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, to be considered for publication in a special volume
produced by the School.

For more information about the Ronald Coase Institute and its previous workshops, see
www.coase.org

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Economic History Association Meeting

I am alive, but really busy. Now I am on the way to Austin to presentthis paper. Comments are welcome!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Epainos Award 2007

The Epainos Award goes to the best paper presented by a young researcher at ERSA. Yesterday Roberto Picchizzolu, a PhD candidate at LSE, shared the prize with Piyapong Jiwattanakulpaisarn. Roberto's paper is superb and the discussion, leaded by Philip McCann, was amazing. I was lucky enough to be there and I guess that it was the best paper/session of the whole conference.
The abstract goes like this:
Entrepreneurial Risk and the Geographical Concentration of Industries: Evidence from the UK Manufacturing Sector.This paper provides an analysis of the effects that conditions of imperfect information and irreversibility of investment exert on location decisions, and subsequently produce some empirical evidence in support of those theoretical results, by looking into the concentration of manufacturing industries in the UK. We analyse the location decision of a firm that has to undertake a non-recoverable investment in order to enter a new market. Localities are characterised by their level of efficiency. The potential entrant faces two types of uncertainty: 1) industry profits are aleatory and 2) the characteristics of the single localities are unknown. Due to the existence of sunk costs and uncertainty over future profits the potential entrant faces the risk of producing losses from the venture (entrepreneurial risk). Our main hypothesis is that agents will use the location of existing plants in the industry to infer information on the characteristics of the single localities: the existence of an industry in a locality signals “good” local endowments. As a consequence, the expected level of profits conditional on the locality being “active” will be higher than the unconditional. This difference is bigger the higher the variability of industry profits. Our main prediction is that high-risk industries will be more concentrated geographically, ceteris paribus. We test this hypothesis on the geographical distribution of manufacturing activity in the UK. We do so by running a series of linear regressions of NACE Rev.1 4-digit industries’ Ellison and Glaeser’s gammas on a measure of entrepreneurial risk, after controlling for transport costs, natural resource intensity and Marshallian economies of agglomeration. Our results confirm a significant positive effect of entrepreneurial risk on geographical concentration. As additional contributions, a new proxy for vertical linkages is introduced, which performs consistently better than the alternatives used in previous empirical studies, and a discussion on how to proxy for transport costs in studies of the geographical concentration of industries are carried out.

Friday, August 31, 2007

History Of Work Information System

I am at ERSA. But I`ve been working on a historical paper that has to be ready by next week. There is a website that was really useful to this research: History Of Work Information System. The search is great: you type an historical occupation in any language and it shows you its meaning and classification.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Hello, I must be going

Next Sunday I will return to Brazil. But before taking the plane, I am going to the European Regional Science Association Conference in Paris. The abstracts and some full papers are available , including the one that Martin Brauch and I have written.
I am quite busy packing and writing the final report, but I will try to post daily. Meanwhile I leave my readers with Groucho Marx:
Hello, I must be going.
I cannot stay,
I came to say
I must be going.
I'm glad I came
but just the same
I must be going.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Evolution is suboptimal

You do not need to believe in QWERTY tales or have an appendicitis to realize that evolution - natural or social - is suboptimal. Just look at this amazing history of the alphabet (via Alex). There are lots of problems with similar letters: V and U; lowercase L and 1; and J and I. Besides, some are rather ugly. (I can't stand the letter "R" and "K").
The guys from Stumbling and Mumbling raised the same point: English (or any language) is obviously inefficient and a result of lock-in mechanisms. But, please, do not search for a solution.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

One in ten brits lives abroad

A very cool map shows where do they live. But no, the island will not become empty. Around 700 thousand people a year, mostly from the new EU countries immigrate to the UK. The results? Lots of research!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

1er Congreso Latinoamericano de Historia Económica

The abstracts bellow have been approved for the CLADHE session on Regional Disparities organized by Moramay Alonso, Eustáquio Reis and me. Thank you all and see you in Montevideo!
Growth with Inequality: Living Standards in Mexico 1850-1950
Moramay Lopez-Alonso (Rice University)

"This article focuses on trends in the adult heights of various sectors of Mexican society between 1850 and 1950 as a proxy for their biological and material standards of living. The evolution of biological standards of living is an alternative way to assess whether or not economic development after 1850 was beneficial to the population, using a proxy that relies on a basic natural characteristic, adult height. The recruitment records of the Mexican rural and federal militia provide us with information on the secular trends of heights of the Mexican labouring classes, while a database of passport applications allows us to compare the evolution of living standards across social classes. It is argued that the benefits of industrialisation and improved economic performance fostered by the Dıá regime (1876–1910) did not have a favourable impact on the biological wellbeing of the labouring population. There are, however, signs of improvement in living standards with the launching of welfare programmes at the end of the Cárdenas administration. In contrast, the average height of the elites increased throughout the period, suggesting that there was a growing disparity in the evolution of living standards between social classes"

"Instituições e Diferenças de Renda entre os Estados Brasileiros: Uma análise histórica"
Naércio Menezes-Filho (IBMEC / USP) , Renato Leite Marcondes (FEA-RP/USP), Elaine Toldo Pazello (FEA-RP/USP), Luiz Guilherme Scorzafave (FEA-RP/USP)

Neste artigo utilizamos a qualidade das instituições atuais e elementos históricos para examinar os determinantes das diferenças de PIB per capita entre os estados brasileiros. Utilizamos uma abordagem empírica para testar a hipótese de que as condições geográficas dos diferentes estados geraram um conjunto de instituições e políticas que visavam a preservar a desigualdade, acabando por reduzir o crescimento econômico nos estados mais desiguais. Analisamos a escravidão, a alfabetização e o acesso ao voto no passado como exemplos de instituições destinadas a manter o status quo e os efeitos da imigração estrangeira como atenuantes deste círculo vicioso. Apesar do reduzido número de observações, as correlações observadas entre essas variáveis e a regressão estimada mostram-se consistentes com estas hipóteses

"The state of the market in a (nation) state-less economy: Argentina at mid-nineteenth century”
María Alejandra Irigoin (The College of New Jersey) & Colin M. Lewis (London School of Economics & Political Science)

The lack of a nation-wide state, endowed with the full attributes of statehood, has led historians (including economic historians) to assume that the modern development of Argentina started in 1880. Namely, that growth became possible only after political turmoil, which characterised the pre-1850s decades, was brought to an end and market-friendly institutions resulting from ‘national consolidation’ were set in place. This paper challenges those assumptions by assembling and evaluating material which suggests that a system of exchange and market production that originated in the colonial economy survived through the revolutionary and early national periods, and even flourished after the 1820s. Recently available data on population, production, trade, commodities, and money and finance facilitate a reassessment of the extent of market production, the behaviour of agents, the organisation of economic activity, and changes in factor allocation in response to regional and international demand. In focussing on the domestic market and internal commercial and monetary networks during the transition from the colonial to the post-Independence economy, the paper maintains that these institutions functioned despite the absence of a nation-wide state. Exploring the ‘state of the market’ in a (national) state-less economy, the paper seeks to re-evaluate the economic consequences of Independence.

The colonial Legacy as a Determinant of Regional Per Capita Income in Colombia
Jaime Bonet, Adolfo Meisel Roca (Banco de la Republica)

Using the Colombian regional experience, this paper introduces new evidence for the analysis of the long-run determinants in per capita income differences. Colombia has experienced significant and persistent regional income disparities. Based on the recent international literature about this topic, we test the relevance of institutions, geography and culture in explaining those differences. Although we establish that colony legacy has had an important impact on the regional income differences in Colombia, it is not easy to know the way through which this legacy influenced outcomes: institutions or human capital. However, human capital seems to play a stronger role than institutions.

Disparidades regionais no Brasil na primeira metade do século XX: Minas
Gerais e São Paulo em perspectiva comparada
Tarcisio R. Botelho (PUC-MG)

O objetivo do paper é apresentar uma proposta metodológica de classificação de ocupações para o passado. O ponto de partida será a aplicação de uma codificação padronizada de ocupações, a HISCO (Historical International Standard Classification of Occupation), baseada na ISCO, utilizada na produção de estatísticas contemporâneas sobre ocupação e mercado de trabalho. A partir da HISCO, é possível recuperar a distribuição da população economicamente ativa segundo os setores econômicos. Pretende-se evidenciar alguns aspectos das desigualdades econômicas intra e inter-regionais a partir de listas nominativas de habitantes da década de 1830 disponíveis para as províncias de São Paulo e Minas Gerais. Simultaneamente, será feita a análise da estratificação social a partir das declarações de ocupação reagrupando-as em conformidade com o modelo HISCLASS (Maas, Leeuwen, 2005), uma adaptação para períodos históricos do modelo de Goldthorpe (Erikson, Goldthorpe, 1992). Ao lado das informações derivadas das declarações de ocupação, pretende-se agregar ao modelo HISCLASS outras dimensões fundamentais para a descrição de status social na América latina, notadamente a condição social (se livre ou escrava) e a cor/raça.

El potencial de mercado en las regiones españolas, 1860-1930.
Julio Martínez Galarraga (Universidad de Barcelona)

En este artículo se lleva a cabo la elaboración del potencial de mercado de las regiones españolas para los años 1860, 1900, 1914 y 1930, para un nivel de desagregación provincial y regional. Por un lado, la disponibilidad de estimaciones del potencial de mercado resulta una variable de gran relevancia para el análisis empírico de las predicciones teóricas dentro de la Nueva Geografía Económica. Por otro lado, desde la historia económica, la aparición del estudio de Crafts (2005) para la economía británica antes de la I Guerra Mundial, sirve como referencia a la hora de obtener estimaciones del potencial de mercado comparables internacionalmente. En este caso, se plantea el estudio de la dinámica seguida por esta variable durante la segunda mitad del siglo XIX y primer tercio del siglo XX, vinculado a las diferentes opciones de política comercial implementada por los gobiernos españoles durante el período estudiado. Así, se puede analizar el impacto sobre la distribución regional del ingreso que tuvo el progresivo cierre al exterior de la economía española desde la última década del siglo XIX, en lo que la literatura ha denominado nacionalismo económico español.

Políticas públicas e disparidades regionais: o caso da zona da Mata de Minas Gerais (1925/1940)
Nicélio do Amaral Barros (Programa de Pós-Graduação em História Social das Relações Políticas – Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo)-

O objetivo central do trabalho é analisar o deslocamento dos eixos político e econômico em Minas Gerais durante a década de 1930. Analisamos como o complexo cafeeiro da zona da Mata foi sobrepujado, neste processo, pela região centro-metalúrgica, especializada no setor siderúrgico. Para tanto, partimos em primeiro lugar da análise teórica de três aspectos fundamentais para se chegar ao foco do estudo: a) os impactos da crise internacional de 1929, fato que influenciou em mudanças na política econômica da maioria dos países latino-americanos; b) a política econômica do governo brasileiro entre 1920 e 1930 e; c) a ação das elites nacionais diante do projeto varguista de industrialização na década de 1930. Em seguida, abordamos as mudanças ocorridas no segmento urbano-industrial do complexo cafeeiro sediado na cidade de Juiz de Fora, na zona da Mata mineira, durante as décadas de 1920 e 1930, em especial no período pós-1929. Para tanto, são analisadas fontes primárias, como processos de falências de sociedades anônimas e firmas limitadas dos ramos industrial, financeiro e comercial. Por fim, procuraremos detectar a ascensão da burguesia sediada em Belo Horizonte, capital de Minas Gerais, no pós-1930.

In this paper the shift of the political and economical axis of coffee production of the zona da Mata, in the state of Minas Gerais, during the 1930’s and the way it was prevailed over by the central metallurgical region, mainly directed to iron and steel industry, is analyzed. The study starts from the theoretical analysis of three basics aspects: a) the shock of the 1929 crisis, which led to changes in the economic policy in most Latin-American countries; b) the economic policy of the brazilian government from 1920 through 1930; and c) the modus operandi of brazilian upper classes concerning president Vargas’s project of industrialization during the 1930’s. Next, changes are analyzed which occurred in the urban and industrial sectors of coffee economy, centered in Juiz de Fora, in the zona da Mata, during the 1920’s and 1930’s, especially during the post-1920 period. In order to reach this aim, primary sources are analyzed, such as bankruptcy proceedings of business corporations and limited companies in the industrial, financial and comercial sectors. Lastly, an effort was made to identify the rise of the bourgeoisie in Belo Horizonte, the capital city of the Minas Gerais, during the post-1930 period. The project, as well as the accomplishment of this class so as to secure admittance to the decision areas of Minas Gerais government, are discussed.

A questão regional no Brasil e a ação do Estado – 1930-1990
Hermes Magalhães Tavares

The Brazilian Economy is made of a typical case of unfair development. Throughout the 20th Century, several images have been used to illustrate the regional Dynamics. First, “The Archepelago Economy”- a period in which the country was formed by several relatively autonomous regions that rarely communicated to one another. Secondly, “The Two Brasis”, a dual focus which did not integrate and, futhermore: the second one pushed the development of the country out of the first one. Finally, the middle-sorrounding model, considered by some as a variant of the second. Whatever approach we might use, the inter-regional labor division has been strictly unfair, which is a question that follows the Brazilian Economy under the sponsorship of the industrial capital. On this essay, we will deal with the Brazilian regional matter between the period of 1930 and 1990, pointing out the actions of the State related to it. Secondary data and other history elements have been used so that the matter is analyzed in its more relevant aspects and moments.


A economia brasileira constitui um caso típico de desenvolvimento desigual. Ao longo do século XX, diversas imagens foram utilizadas para ilustrar a dinâmica regional. Em primeiro lugar, a “economia de arquipélago” – fase em que o país era formado por várias regiões relativamente autônomas, que se articulavam escassamente. Em segundo, “os dois brasis”, enfoque dual que considerava o país constituído por dois segmentos – o Centro-Sul e o Nordeste-Norte – que não se integravam e mais: o segundo segmento emperrava o desenvolvimento do país a partir do primeiro. Em terceiro, o modelo centro-periferia, considerado por alguns como variante do segundo modelo. Qualquer que seja a abordagem, uma divisão inter-regional do trabalho bastante desigual; questão regional que atravessa a economia brasileira sob a égide do capital industrial. Este trabalho trata da questão regional brasileira, no período de 1930 a 1990, destacando a ação do Estado em relação a essa. Usam-se dados secundários e outros elementos da historiografia, com o objetivo de analisar essa questão em seus aspectos e momentos mais relevantes. "

Desenvolvimento Econômico do Rio Grande do Sul
Nali de Jesus de Souza (PUC-RS)

Procurou-se identificar os fatores do desenvolvimento do RS desde o Século 18. A economia originou-se da extração de erva-mate e da produção de couros e charque. Com a chegada dos imigrantes, a agropecuária diversificou-se e surgiram as primeiras indústrias. Conflitos com o governo federal provocaram Revoluções no RS. Os principais fatores de seu desenvolvimento foram: agricultura mecanizada e exportadora (arroz, trigo e soja); criação de programas estaduais de desenvolvimento e incentivos públicos; implantação de empresas públicas e atração de investimentos. Isso neutralizou impactos de fatores climáticos, conjunturais e de políticas nacionais desfavoráveis, como valorização cambial, que afetam a economia gaúcha.

The roots of regional inequalities in Brazil (1872-1920)
Eustáquio Reis (IPEA) , Leonardo Monasterio (UFPel)

This paper provides historical perspectives on regional economic inequalities in Brazil. It analyzes the changes in the spatial concentration of economic activities in Brazil based upon data on the municipal distribution of the labor force by occupation from the Censuses of 1872 and 1920. The New Economic Geography provides the analytical framework to show how geography, technology and institutions combined give industrial preeminence to the city of São Paulo and why the accelerated industrial growth of São Paulo had such a limited and delayed effects in the rest of the country. In short, the significant reduction in transport costs brought by railroads stimulated subsidized international migration as an institutional solution to the labor shortage problem. Other consequences were the increased market potential of the city of São Paulo, which triggered self-reinforcing processes of human capital accumulation, economies of scale and agglomeration externalities in the industrial sector. Regression analyses suggest that immigration, railways and economic diversity were relevant for the locational decisions in 1920. Natural resources, however, seem unimportant to explain the changes in the location of manufacturing activities between 1872 and 1920.

1er Congreso Latinoamericano de Historia Económica

Aí vão os resumos dos artigos aprovados na sessão sobre Disparidades Regionais no CLADHE que Moramay Alonso, Eustáquio Reis e eu organizamos. Nos vemos em Montevidéu!
Growth with Inequality: Living Standards in Mexico 1850-1950
Moramay Lopez-Alonso (Rice University)

"This article focuses on trends in the adult heights of various sectors of Mexican society between 1850 and 1950 as a proxy for their biological and material standards of living. The evolution of biological standards of living is an alternative way to assess whether or not economic development after 1850 was beneficial to the population, using a proxy that relies on a basic natural characteristic, adult height. The recruitment records of the Mexican rural and federal militia provide us with information on the secular trends of heights of the Mexican labouring classes, while a database of passport applications allows us to compare the evolution of living standards across social classes. It is argued that the benefits of industrialisation and improved economic performance fostered by the Dıá regime (1876–1910) did not have a favourable impact on the biological wellbeing of the labouring population. There are, however, signs of improvement in living standards with the launching of welfare programmes at the end of the Cárdenas administration. In contrast, the average height of the elites increased throughout the period, suggesting that there was a growing disparity in the evolution of living standards between social classes"

"Instituições e Diferenças de Renda entre os Estados Brasileiros: Uma análise histórica"
Naércio Menezes-Filho (IBMEC / USP) , Renato Leite Marcondes (FEA-RP/USP), Elaine Toldo Pazello (FEA-RP/USP), Luiz Guilherme Scorzafave (FEA-RP/USP)

Neste artigo utilizamos a qualidade das instituições atuais e elementos históricos para examinar os determinantes das diferenças de PIB per capita entre os estados brasileiros. Utilizamos uma abordagem empírica para testar a hipótese de que as condições geográficas dos diferentes estados geraram um conjunto de instituições e políticas que visavam a preservar a desigualdade, acabando por reduzir o crescimento econômico nos estados mais desiguais. Analisamos a escravidão, a alfabetização e o acesso ao voto no passado como exemplos de instituições destinadas a manter o status quo e os efeitos da imigração estrangeira como atenuantes deste círculo vicioso. Apesar do reduzido número de observações, as correlações observadas entre essas variáveis e a regressão estimada mostram-se consistentes com estas hipóteses

"The state of the market in a (nation) state-less economy: Argentina at mid-nineteenth century”
María Alejandra Irigoin (The College of New Jersey) & Colin M. Lewis (London School of Economics & Political Science)

The lack of a nation-wide state, endowed with the full attributes of statehood, has led historians (including economic historians) to assume that the modern development of Argentina started in 1880. Namely, that growth became possible only after political turmoil, which characterised the pre-1850s decades, was brought to an end and market-friendly institutions resulting from ‘national consolidation’ were set in place. This paper challenges those assumptions by assembling and evaluating material which suggests that a system of exchange and market production that originated in the colonial economy survived through the revolutionary and early national periods, and even flourished after the 1820s. Recently available data on population, production, trade, commodities, and money and finance facilitate a reassessment of the extent of market production, the behaviour of agents, the organisation of economic activity, and changes in factor allocation in response to regional and international demand. In focussing on the domestic market and internal commercial and monetary networks during the transition from the colonial to the post-Independence economy, the paper maintains that these institutions functioned despite the absence of a nation-wide state. Exploring the ‘state of the market’ in a (national) state-less economy, the paper seeks to re-evaluate the economic consequences of Independence.

The colonial Legacy as a Determinant of Regional Per Capita Income in Colombia
Jaime Bonet, Adolfo Meisel Roca (Banco de la Republica)

Using the Colombian regional experience, this paper introduces new evidence for the analysis of the long-run determinants in per capita income differences. Colombia has experienced significant and persistent regional income disparities. Based on the recent international literature about this topic, we test the relevance of institutions, geography and culture in explaining those differences. Although we establish that colony legacy has had an important impact on the regional income differences in Colombia, it is not easy to know the way through which this legacy influenced outcomes: institutions or human capital. However, human capital seems to play a stronger role than institutions.

Disparidades regionais no Brasil na primeira metade do século XX: Minas
Gerais e São Paulo em perspectiva comparada
Tarcisio R. Botelho (PUC-MG)

O objetivo do paper é apresentar uma proposta metodológica de classificação de ocupações para o passado. O ponto de partida será a aplicação de uma codificação padronizada de ocupações, a HISCO (Historical International Standard Classification of Occupation), baseada na ISCO, utilizada na produção de estatísticas contemporâneas sobre ocupação e mercado de trabalho. A partir da HISCO, é possível recuperar a distribuição da população economicamente ativa segundo os setores econômicos. Pretende-se evidenciar alguns aspectos das desigualdades econômicas intra e inter-regionais a partir de listas nominativas de habitantes da década de 1830 disponíveis para as províncias de São Paulo e Minas Gerais. Simultaneamente, será feita a análise da estratificação social a partir das declarações de ocupação reagrupando-as em conformidade com o modelo HISCLASS (Maas, Leeuwen, 2005), uma adaptação para períodos históricos do modelo de Goldthorpe (Erikson, Goldthorpe, 1992). Ao lado das informações derivadas das declarações de ocupação, pretende-se agregar ao modelo HISCLASS outras dimensões fundamentais para a descrição de status social na América latina, notadamente a condição social (se livre ou escrava) e a cor/raça.

El potencial de mercado en las regiones españolas, 1860-1930.
Julio Martínez Galarraga (Universidad de Barcelona)

En este artículo se lleva a cabo la elaboración del potencial de mercado de las regiones españolas para los años 1860, 1900, 1914 y 1930, para un nivel de desagregación provincial y regional. Por un lado, la disponibilidad de estimaciones del potencial de mercado resulta una variable de gran relevancia para el análisis empírico de las predicciones teóricas dentro de la Nueva Geografía Económica. Por otro lado, desde la historia económica, la aparición del estudio de Crafts (2005) para la economía británica antes de la I Guerra Mundial, sirve como referencia a la hora de obtener estimaciones del potencial de mercado comparables internacionalmente. En este caso, se plantea el estudio de la dinámica seguida por esta variable durante la segunda mitad del siglo XIX y primer tercio del siglo XX, vinculado a las diferentes opciones de política comercial implementada por los gobiernos españoles durante el período estudiado. Así, se puede analizar el impacto sobre la distribución regional del ingreso que tuvo el progresivo cierre al exterior de la economía española desde la última década del siglo XIX, en lo que la literatura ha denominado nacionalismo económico español.

Políticas públicas e disparidades regionais: o caso da zona da Mata de Minas Gerais (1925/1940)
Nicélio do Amaral Barros (Programa de Pós-Graduação em História Social das Relações Políticas – Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo)-

O objetivo central do trabalho é analisar o deslocamento dos eixos político e econômico em Minas Gerais durante a década de 1930. Analisamos como o complexo cafeeiro da zona da Mata foi sobrepujado, neste processo, pela região centro-metalúrgica, especializada no setor siderúrgico. Para tanto, partimos em primeiro lugar da análise teórica de três aspectos fundamentais para se chegar ao foco do estudo: a) os impactos da crise internacional de 1929, fato que influenciou em mudanças na política econômica da maioria dos países latino-americanos; b) a política econômica do governo brasileiro entre 1920 e 1930 e; c) a ação das elites nacionais diante do projeto varguista de industrialização na década de 1930. Em seguida, abordamos as mudanças ocorridas no segmento urbano-industrial do complexo cafeeiro sediado na cidade de Juiz de Fora, na zona da Mata mineira, durante as décadas de 1920 e 1930, em especial no período pós-1929. Para tanto, são analisadas fontes primárias, como processos de falências de sociedades anônimas e firmas limitadas dos ramos industrial, financeiro e comercial. Por fim, procuraremos detectar a ascensão da burguesia sediada em Belo Horizonte, capital de Minas Gerais, no pós-1930.

In this paper the shift of the political and economical axis of coffee production of the zona da Mata, in the state of Minas Gerais, during the 1930’s and the way it was prevailed over by the central metallurgical region, mainly directed to iron and steel industry, is analyzed. The study starts from the theoretical analysis of three basics aspects: a) the shock of the 1929 crisis, which led to changes in the economic policy in most Latin-American countries; b) the economic policy of the brazilian government from 1920 through 1930; and c) the modus operandi of brazilian upper classes concerning president Vargas’s project of industrialization during the 1930’s. Next, changes are analyzed which occurred in the urban and industrial sectors of coffee economy, centered in Juiz de Fora, in the zona da Mata, during the 1920’s and 1930’s, especially during the post-1920 period. In order to reach this aim, primary sources are analyzed, such as bankruptcy proceedings of business corporations and limited companies in the industrial, financial and comercial sectors. Lastly, an effort was made to identify the rise of the bourgeoisie in Belo Horizonte, the capital city of the Minas Gerais, during the post-1930 period. The project, as well as the accomplishment of this class so as to secure admittance to the decision areas of Minas Gerais government, are discussed.

A questão regional no Brasil e a ação do Estado – 1930-1990
Hermes Magalhães Tavares

The Brazilian Economy is made of a typical case of unfair development. Throughout the 20th Century, several images have been used to illustrate the regional Dynamics. First, “The Archepelago Economy”- a period in which the country was formed by several relatively autonomous regions that rarely communicated to one another. Secondly, “The Two Brasis”, a dual focus which did not integrate and, futhermore: the second one pushed the development of the country out of the first one. Finally, the middle-sorrounding model, considered by some as a variant of the second. Whatever approach we might use, the inter-regional labor division has been strictly unfair, which is a question that follows the Brazilian Economy under the sponsorship of the industrial capital. On this essay, we will deal with the Brazilian regional matter between the period of 1930 and 1990, pointing out the actions of the State related to it. Secondary data and other history elements have been used so that the matter is analyzed in its more relevant aspects and moments.


A economia brasileira constitui um caso típico de desenvolvimento desigual. Ao longo do século XX, diversas imagens foram utilizadas para ilustrar a dinâmica regional. Em primeiro lugar, a “economia de arquipélago” – fase em que o país era formado por várias regiões relativamente autônomas, que se articulavam escassamente. Em segundo, “os dois brasis”, enfoque dual que considerava o país constituído por dois segmentos – o Centro-Sul e o Nordeste-Norte – que não se integravam e mais: o segundo segmento emperrava o desenvolvimento do país a partir do primeiro. Em terceiro, o modelo centro-periferia, considerado por alguns como variante do segundo modelo. Qualquer que seja a abordagem, uma divisão inter-regional do trabalho bastante desigual; questão regional que atravessa a economia brasileira sob a égide do capital industrial. Este trabalho trata da questão regional brasileira, no período de 1930 a 1990, destacando a ação do Estado em relação a essa. Usam-se dados secundários e outros elementos da historiografia, com o objetivo de analisar essa questão em seus aspectos e momentos mais relevantes. "

Desenvolvimento Econômico do Rio Grande do Sul
Nali de Jesus de Souza (PUC-RS)

Procurou-se identificar os fatores do desenvolvimento do RS desde o Século 18. A economia originou-se da extração de erva-mate e da produção de couros e charque. Com a chegada dos imigrantes, a agropecuária diversificou-se e surgiram as primeiras indústrias. Conflitos com o governo federal provocaram Revoluções no RS. Os principais fatores de seu desenvolvimento foram: agricultura mecanizada e exportadora (arroz, trigo e soja); criação de programas estaduais de desenvolvimento e incentivos públicos; implantação de empresas públicas e atração de investimentos. Isso neutralizou impactos de fatores climáticos, conjunturais e de políticas nacionais desfavoráveis, como valorização cambial, que afetam a economia gaúcha.

The roots of regional inequalities in Brazil (1872-1920)
Eustáquio Reis (IPEA) , Leonardo Monasterio (UFPel)

This paper provides historical perspectives on regional economic inequalities in Brazil. It analyzes the changes in the spatial concentration of economic activities in Brazil based upon data on the municipal distribution of the labor force by occupation from the Censuses of 1872 and 1920. The New Economic Geography provides the analytical framework to show how geography, technology and institutions combined give industrial preeminence to the city of São Paulo and why the accelerated industrial growth of São Paulo had such a limited and delayed effects in the rest of the country. In short, the significant reduction in transport costs brought by railroads stimulated subsidized international migration as an institutional solution to the labor shortage problem. Other consequences were the increased market potential of the city of São Paulo, which triggered self-reinforcing processes of human capital accumulation, economies of scale and agglomeration externalities in the industrial sector. Regression analyses suggest that immigration, railways and economic diversity were relevant for the locational decisions in 1920. Natural resources, however, seem unimportant to explain the changes in the location of manufacturing activities between 1872 and 1920.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

India

In Brazil, you are not really aware of India. Everybody knows that there are 1.1 billion Indians, but the average Brazilian -like me - has never met one. This changes completely when you live in London. Here Indian culture is all over the place, my friends have Indian heritage, and I have eaten tons of curries. It is natural to become interested in the country. However it is really hard to understand India (and probably I'll never do).
The site that BBC has set up to celebrate the Independence is a good start to grasp India. Two BBC recent articles are a must for those who want to understand the recent changes: The changing values of modern India and Can India close the wealth gap?
From the first one I learn that in the sixties:
"Such was the scarcity in the country that there was a Guest Control Order which meant you could not invite more than fifty people for a meal - at weddings all you got was a thin slice of ice cream."
And from the latter I learn about rural outsourcing:
"Bellary is home to one of India's first rural outsourcing centres, run by Indian steel maker JSW Steel Limited. The organisation has started two small operations on its Bellary campus, hiring young women from nearby villages to work in their rural processing centres. Here the girls spend their shifts punching in details of American patients' dental records, typing in a language many of them have only recently learned, using a machine many had never seen or heard of before. Twenty-year-old Savithri Amma has a basic high school diploma. She earns about $80 (£40) a month doing this work - the same as one of her peers might earn working as a house-help in Mumbai."

Monday, August 13, 2007

New Economic Geography and Public Choice

Things get really interesting when you combine both approaches:

Do rent-seeking and interregional transfers contribute to urban primacy in sub-Saharan Africa?
Kristian Behrens Alain Pholo Bala
We develop an economic geography model in which mobile skilled workers choose
between working in the production sector or becoming part of an unproductive political elite
. The elite sets tax rates on skilled and unskilled workers to maximize its own welfare by extracting rents, thereby influencing the spatial allocation of production and changing the available range of consumption goods. We show that such behavior increases the likelihood of agglomeration and of urban primacy. In equilibrium, the elite may tax the unskilled workers but will never tax the skilled workers, and there are rural-urban transfers towards the agglomeration.
The size of the elite and the magnitude of the tax burden that falls on the unskilled is shown to decrease with product differentiation and, via the tax rates, with the expenditure share for manufacturing goods

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Height and Income

This article gets almost everything wrong. It says that the causality runs in the direction height -> income. In fact, kids that have access to better nutrition and health receive a better education as well and end up being taller and more successful (on average). Height is just a confounding variable and does not cause financial or emotional success, as the article suggests. (OK, I do admit that there is labour market discrimination against shorter people, but I guess that these effects are not really important in developed economies.)

PS: Are you interested in Anthropometrics? So read anything from Prof Komlos, Prof Steckel, and Prof Fogel.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Why do I love Economics?

Just glance at a selection of titles from the new NBER papers. Exotic places, interesting questions and all possible themes. The list starts with a Robert Lucas' paper and closes with one titled: "From "White Christmas" to Sgt. Pepper". Amazing, isn't it?

1. Trade and the Diffusion of the Industrial Revolution
by Robert E. Lucas, Jr. #13286 (EFG)
http://papers.nber.org/papers/W13286

2. Island Matching
by Dale T. Mortensen #13287 (EFG)
http://papers.nber.org/papers/W13287

3. Misallocation and Manufacturing TFP in China and India
by Chang-Tai Hsieh, Peter J. Klenow #13290 (EFG PR)
http://papers.nber.org/papers/W13290


6. Why Don't Inventors Patent?
by Petra Moser #13294 (DAE PR)
http://papers.nber.org/papers/W13294

7. Employment, Innovation, and Productivity: Evidence from Italian Microdata
by Bronwyn H. Hall, Francesca Lotti, Jacques Mairesse #13296 (IO PR LS)
http://papers.nber.org/papers/W13296

9. Many Children Left Behind? Textbooks and Test Scores in Kenya
by Paul Glewwe, Michael Kremer, Sylvie Moulin #13300 (ED POL)
http://papers.nber.org/papers/W13300

10. Spatial Growth and Industry Age
by Klaus Desmet, Esteban Rossi-Hansberg #13302 (EFG PR)
http://papers.nber.org/papers/W13302

12. The Power of TV: Cable Television and Women's Status in India
by Robert Jensen, Emily Oster #13305 (LS)
http://papers.nber.org/papers/W13305

13. Wage and Productivity Premiums in Sub-Saharan Africa
by Johannes Van Biesebroeck #13306 (LS PR)
http://papers.nber.org/papers/W13306

14. From "White Christmas" to Sgt. Pepper: The Conceptual Revolution in Popular Music
by David Galenson #13308 (LS)
http://papers.nber.org/papers/W13308

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Gregory Clark and the Industrial Revolution

The New York Times reviews Gregory Clark's book. I've have read just the chapters that were available on-line and I am sure that the book is excellent.
However, his thesis that there was a genetic component in the roots of the Industrial Revolution does not convince me at all. When he presented his paper at the LSE Economic History Seminar, this point was severely criticized. The main reason for criticism is that the speed of biological adaptation is too slow to explain economic changes like the Industrial Revolution. There were even tongue in cheek remarks like:"If you look at my ancestors, probably you would change your mind".

Monday, August 6, 2007

Economists' Duel

This shortfilm explains why you should not waste your energy in quarrels with people who hold different beliefs.
UPDATE: Sorry, dailymotion removed the video.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Wages and Industrial Clusters in Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil)

The Review of Regional Studies has published my paper (gated pdf file). The abstract goes like this:
The purpose of this paper is to test whether the New Economic Geography hypothesis concerning the existence of a spatial wage structure applies to the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. The first part of the study applies several spatial analysis techniques in order to locate industrial clusters and calculate the market potential of the municipalities studied. The second part uses this information together with demographic data to run wage regressions aimed at capturing the effects of agglomeration and urban economies on individual wages. The results do not falsify the hypothesis that nominal wages, using the proper controls, are higher in municipalities with higher market potential and lower in the economically disadvantaged hinterland of the state.

If you wish to read the paper, I can e-mail you a previous version.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Winnie, the Mathematician

We all know that Brian May is about to receive his Astrophysics PhD. Today, I found out that Danica Mckellar graduated summa cum laude from UCLA and has published an incomprehensible proof in an academic journal . Don't you remember her? She was the Kevin's girlfriend, Winnie Cooper, in my favourite TV series.
Via Wired.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

If Jackson Pollock were an economist

He would create figures like that: "The Product Space Conditions the Development of Nations". (I still do not get what they mean, but they are quite beautiful.)

Via Dani Rodrik.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Ten Commandments of Applied Econometrics

This week I have been running regressions on the determinants of industrial location in 1920 Brazil. The first results are quite promising.
Before starting any an applied paper, however, I think it is healthy to read Peter Kennedy's "Oh no! I got the wrong sign! What should I do? and The Ten Commandments of Applied Econometrics. If I had learned his lessons when I was younger, maybe I wouldn't have sinned as much as I did. I strongly recommend grad students to read the paper before applying the last rocket-science technique as well.

Andrew Gelman provides further comments on Kennedy's papers.

Friday, July 20, 2007

My brothers were right!

When we were kids, my brothers used to call me "stupid". It turns out that they were right! A new study shows that:
"differences between first-borns and second-borns of about one fifth of a standard deviation or approximately 3 IQ points."

Ok, it is not a huge difference, but they had (have?) a point anyway.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Why R?

I am afraid that analysing the data from the Lancet study on Iraqui mortality is not an appealing reason for changing to R. But how about presenting a cool graph instead of a boring table of regression results?

Here.
Thanks to Andrew Gelman (the brilliant statistician, blogger and passionate R user).

My presentation at the Spatial Econometrics Conference 2007

The powerpoint presentation of the paper "SPATIAL DYNAMICS OF ECONOMIC
GROWTH IN BRAZIL (1970-2000):AN EMPIRICAL APPROACH" (with Martin Brauch) is available here. (Just drop me an e-mail if you want the full version of the paper).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

P. J. O'Rourke on Adam Smith

I haven't bought it yet because it is only available in hardcover and it is quite expensive. But I can assure you that it is excellent.
The satirist P. J. O'Rourke authored a brilliant and hilarious book on economic development.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Honey, I misinterpreted the coefficients

Last Saturday, at the Spatial Econometrics Conference 2007, James Lesage presented a paper showing that everybody misunderstood the meaning of coefficients in spatial regressions. And sometimes the difference is huge. It was an excellent presentation and you could almost hear the audience thinking: "Ay caramba, I have to rewrite everything...".
Only the abstract of the paper is available on-line. Stay tuned.
(Luckily, there were no spatial regressions in the paper (co-authored with Martin Brauch) that I presented there.)

Zimbabwe is collapsing

Mr. Mugabe has created a Bizarro World of sane economic policies. Sure Zimbabwe was not a perfect place before Mr.Mugabe, but it is almost unbelievable what he has done to the country:
Eight in ten people have no formal jobs; inflation, officially estimated at more than 3,700%, may actually be twice as high.
So President Robert Mugabe has decided to try to do something about the galloping prices of basic goods. Ignoring protests from Gideon Gono, the governor of the central bank, Mr Mugabe, who famously despises “bookish economics”, has sent the police in to order shopkeepers to slash their prices, forcing them to sell at a loss. The predictable result is huge crowds waiting outside shops to rush in and grab whatever they can while the going is good. Factories are threatened with being taken over if they stop production. Hundreds of shopkeepers have been arrested, accused of not lowering their prices enough.

By the way, before trying to help Africa, you should read this or this.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Poverty and Development - Hans Rosling


He is the crazy genius behind Gapminder. His new TED talk is amazing. 19 minutes that will make you fell more optimistic. Do not loose the last minute!
Best sentence:

"My neighbor knows 200 types of wine, I know just 2. But I know 200 types of countries, while he knows just "Developed" and "Underdeveloped"."

BTW, if the subject is Gapminder you should take a look at the Dollar Street.

More underwear, more literacy

The story goes like this: Marco Mostert says that the increase in the use of underwear in medieval Europe led to a growth in the supply of rags, a fall in the price of paper and eventually the increase in literacy.
That's unintended consequences!

Via boingboing.

Balassa Samuelson and Le Big Mac

The Economist has published a new Big Mac index. It is the best way to teach Power Purchasing Parity to undergrads. Furthermore the index is useful to explain the Balassa Samuelson effect, one of the most interesting and comprehensive theories/effects of economics. It explains long term trends in exchange rates, as well as why tourists from developed countries travel abroad in search of sex e medical treatment.
By the way, there is a Big Mac boom going on in Paris.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Dangerous Book for Boys

It is the best book ever written if you are 13. Nevertheless, I have just bought a copy of it. Know what? It is still amazing. Read an enthusiastic review here.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

in the most recent issue of European Economic Review:

Income inequality and colonialism

Luis Angeles

This paper proposes that colonialism is a major explanation behind today's differences in income inequality across countries. We argue that income inequality has been higher in the colonies where the percentage of European settlers to total population was higher, as long as Europeans remained a minority. The countries where Europeans became the majority of the population did not suffer from high inequality. These initial differences continue to hold today. The empirical evidence we provide strongly supports our thesis.


An older non-gated version of the paper is available here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Friday, June 29, 2007

Spatial Econometrics Association Conference

The programme of the SEA 2007 (Cambridge UK) and several papers are on-line. I'll be there!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Efficiency of the Flush Toilet

I've already written about the amazing William Nordhaus' papers on the technical progress in light emission and computation power. I have another another (crude) example: have you notice the improvements on the flush toilets? The newer ones do their jobs with much less water than the older models.
(Am I the only one who pays attention to this kind of stuff?)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

London for Economists 2

The Institute of Fiscal Studies has a series of walks for economists through London available for download. The walks have an Econometrics bias, so you will see the place where Reverend Bayes is buried and the birthplace of Prof Pearson. Nevertheless the guides are a must for Economics obsessed minds.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The most expensive cities in the world

Tell me about it.

Centrepiece

Centrepiece is the magazine of the LSE's Centre of Economic Performance . It translates to the normal human being the research that the economists of the Centre have been doing. All articles are available for free. Stop reading this blog and download the articles! Now!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Stewart Brand: Why squatter cities are a good thing

Stewart Brand was the first human being to use the term "personal computer" and has a amazing bio. In this 2-minute presentation he shows his views on world poverty and how the cities are the best way to get people out of poverty.
It is true that the poorest of the poor still live in "Jeffrey Sachs" rural villages, but the large share of poor has already moved to squatter cities. Urbanization is not the problem, it is part of the solution to the social issues. Remember what Jane Jacobs and Hernando De Soto taught us: slums have their own vitality and a huge potential to improve the lives of their dwellers.
Click here for a fantastic one hour lecture.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Safari for Windows

Yes, it is beautiful and fast, but I am sticking with Firefox. I want to be a keyboard ninja and I am addicted to Firefox Quick Search.
BTW, Steven Jobs keynote is always a lesson on how to give an fantastic presentation.

Friday, June 15, 2007

US states renamed for countries with similar life expectancies


Davi Zell and I had a few problems with this one. The differences in life expectancies at birth among US states were quite small and we had to repeat countries and even include the USA in the map.
This is really addictive, but this is the last (strange)map spin off that I will ever do. (Ok, maybe just one more :-)).

Brazilian States Renamed for Life Expectancy


(Click to enlarge)
Bad news. The worst case is Maranhão (Bangladesh) and the best is Santa Catarina (Argentina). Actually, life expectancy in Brazil has improved since 2000, but - as the other countries have improved as well - he relative situation of the Brazilian states is far from acceptable. The map is a joint production Zell & Monasterio.

Paul Krugman at LSE

You can me whatever you want, but I must confess that I enjoy economist-celebrity spotting. Yesterday, Krugman went to the LSE to give the James Meade Memorial Lecture. Yes, he has lost his faith on the power of free-trade to foster growth in the III World, but he has not become a protectionist:
"My case for free trade rests more in the wish that Bangladesh keeps its head above the water, than in the hope of a new South Korea"
His main point is that a large share of the recent rise in inequality in the I and III Worlds is due to globalisation. (During question time, Danny Quah remembered that, although inequality has risen within countries, the world became more equal. Krugman did not reply to this point).
I would prefer to listen to him talking about economic geography, nevertheless I will keep my ticket to the lecture as memorabilia.

UPDATE: this article summarizes the main points of his lecture.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Brazilian States Renamed for Countries with Similar GDPs


(Click to enlarge)

Davi Zell and I decided to copy the idea of this map. This is to be taken with a pinch of salt, not only due to possible bias in GDP measurement, but also because we had to make a few approximations in order to have interesting countries' names on the figure.
Tomorrow we will post a similar map, but with data on life expectancy at birth. You will see that it is much more meaningful than this one. Stay tuned.

International Workshop StatGIS 2007 - Interfacing Spatial statistics and

Here. Prof Kelejian is the organizer and the deadline is August 1, 2007.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Coolest Map Ever


US states renamed for countries with similar GDP.
Via Marginal Revolution.

The Brazilian Economy 1928-1980

Marcelo Passos, now back to the blogosphere, send me the link to Marcelo de Paiva Abreu's "The Brazilian Economy 1928-1980". In fact, it is a 150 pages draft prepared to the Cambridge History of Latin America (Leslie Bethell ed).

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Dog-bites-man Journalism

Newspapers all over the world and even top econ bloggers published that Muhammad was the number #2 name for babies in the UK. "Oh my God, soon Muslims will control the nation!" some may have thought.
What does this piece of news actually say? Almost nothing. The numbers: there were 5,991 babies called Muhammad last year, but 669,531 births. So, less than 0.9% of the 2006' babies are called Muhammad. The "Muhammad #2 name" headline just says that Muslims are not really creative when the choose the name of their kids.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Engel's Law in Pictures



Everybody knows that the income elasticity of the demand for food is lower than one (except if do your grocery shopping here). There is nothing exciting in that empirical law. This book , however, is really cool: it shows the actual diet of 30 families around the world. It is amazing that the diet of families from average income countries look more appealing than the one from poor or rich countries. I guess that Colombians and Egyptians have the resources and the time necessary prepare yummy food.

Via boingboing.

Friday, June 8, 2007

The Natural Resource Curse

I am a true believer in the "Natural Resource Curse" thesis. That is: countries with huge endowments of nature resources tend to grow slowly due to institutional reasons.
Last Wednesday, however, I attended a seminar at Cambridge that has shaken my beliefs. Erwin Bulte, from Tilburg, has shown that the econometric results that support the curse thesis are reversed when resource abundance is correctly measured. I am still not convinced because he has just 10 African countries in his sample and maybe there is selection bias. Nevertheless, I think it is a very interesting paper.

Update: Shikida sent me the link to a new book on the Resource Curse.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Thirty years ago

...the revolution started.

Regional Economics Textbooks

Roberta Capello's brand new book is quite good, but Philip McCann's still is - without any doubt - the best Urban and Regional Economics textbook available.
However if you are short of money, there is a free web book: An Introduction to Regional Economics. It is out-of-date, but anyway you can get the basics of the field.

Monday, June 4, 2007

334 pages of Economic Wisdom

William Baumol, the polymath, co-authored the book Good capitalism, Bad capitalism, and the economics of growth and prosperity. Download it for free here!!!
By the way, the Nobel Prize is long overdue for Baumol.

via Gustibus.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Vista

The Vista DVD arrived about 2 weeks ago and I've installed it right away. Why have I done this? Just because I am a stupid neophyte. Yes, it looks much better than XP, but Geoda, Arcview 8.2 do not run under Vista. Furthermore Gadgets and the new Start menu are not as effective as Google Desktop plus Launchy.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

The roots of regional inequalities in Brazil(1872-1920)

Quite a busy week. Fixing merged files, debugging R code and preparing the yesterday's presentation at the LSE cliometrics seminar. There is still a lot of work to be done, but the preliminary results are stimulating.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Underdevelopment and Development in Brazil

Nathaniel Leff's book is superb. I guess that the the English edition is out-of-print. By chance, I've just found out that the Brazilian edition is available here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

London for Economists I


Pay a visit to Jeremy Bentham at UCL. Drink a pint in his name here.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The adjusted tax freedom day

May 26th was the tax freedom day in Brazil. In the UK the date is celebrated next week and in Sweden only in August.
Does this mean that Brazilians are in a better situation than the British or Swedes? I do not think so. Therefore, I propose the adjusted tax freedom day: the quality of public services in Brazil is so poor, that we have to go private. So, the values that the Brazilians spend on private health, basic education and security should be added to the tax burden in order to calculate the adjusted tax-freedom day. It is not difficult to calculate and it would provide more precise indicator of the relation between society and State in Brazil.