Fresh Economics History

This term I'm taking "International Economics History" - although there is the word "international economics" in the title of the course, actually it is all about growth. Remember last time when I went to  Barcelona GSE “Trobada” VIII, the teacher, Davide Cantoni, stands out among all speakers... so impressed! Well, now I can say that I have waited for this course for half a year, haha!

Yesterday I also went to his seminar (partly for the free sandwich~), it was

LABOUR/PUBLIC/DEVELOPMENT FACULTY LUNCH
Date: 06/04/2011
Speaker: Davide Cantoni (UPF)
Title: Clueless? The Impact of Television on Consumption Behavior (with Leo Bursztyn)

as well as another following seminar on economics history today

ECONOMIC AND BUSINESS HISTORY SEMINAR SERIES
Date: 07/04/2011
Speaker: James Fenske (Oxford)
Title: Ecology, trade and states in pre-colonial Africa

From this two seminars, I can feel that a fresh trend of econometrics-based economics history is blooming. Recall that this year's job market star from UPF, Peter Koudijs, who writes a paper "The Boats that did not sail. News, Trading and Asset Price Volatility in a Natural Experiment", is focusing on analyze and provide insights of modern economic research from the historical view. I think that is how people should (re)define economics history now. The traditional economics history, e.g. what I learned in China at the undergraduate level, is all about how the economic theories evolve. From the ancestor Adam Smith, to the recent mainstream guys, that's what the course can tell me. In contrast, the economics history course I'm learning now is all about how to support your theory from the historical view - which reminds me the famous Chinese saying that “History is a mirror that reflects the vicissitude of life (以史为镜,可以知兴替)”。BTW, I'm a kind of feeling now that China can really draw people's eyeballs. Today in another class, the professor quoted Confucius'

By three methods we may learn wisdom:  First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.

Well, I really need to search for it...and it turns out to be

“生而知之者,上也;学而知之者,次也;困而学之,又其次也;困而不学,民斯为下矣。”(《论语·季氏》)

Oh well... OK, if it means that.... I'm pretty confused now.

Davide Canton's speech was about an natural experiment, the reunion of west and east Germany, and its influence on television signals. Pretty interesting idea and nice paper. On the other hand, James Fenske shows me how to utilize the modern econometrics methods with historical evidence and from then on, how can it provide insights to those unclear questions in economic theories. Notable, he is such a careful research! Have a look at his robustness check part - so impressive!

By three methods we may learn wisdom:
First, by reflection, which is noblest;
Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and
third by experience, which is the bitterest.

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