The Economic History podcast is a platform for sharing knowledge, ideas and new research with a general interest audience. Each fortnight, we meet leading academics in the field and discuss a range of topics, including pandemics, long run economic growth, gender issues, financial crises, inequality, sustainable development and a number of weird and fun economic experiments in history. There is no time like the past to help us understand the present.
The Rise and Fall of American Growth, 1870-2010
In this episode, Prof. Robert Gordon walks us through the U.S. growth record since the Civil War. We discuss some key takeaways from his monumental 2016 book (which lends its name to this episode). We cover some key drivers of changes in standard of living, not all of which are captured in economic statistics. We contrast the technological breakthroughs in the period 1870-1940 with 1940-2010 and consider the varying productivity impacts of each. Finally, we review the major headwinds facing the US economy in the coming decades.
Interwar (Monetary) Instability
In this episode, we sit down with Assoc. Prof. Kirsten Wandschneider to talk about the monetary disintegration that plagued the interwar period. How did countries choose to go back on the Interwar Gold Standard? How did this constrain policy choices? Why did countries eventually leave and why was the interwar standard so shortlived? We also review the performance of countries who remained on gold compared with those who imposed various types of capital controls based on Kirsten's work. We finish by considering her recent efforts to quantify the effects of the 1930s currency wars on international trade.
Making Social Spending Work
Prof. Peter Lindert discusses the evidence on social spending and the economy since the nineteenth century summarized in his new book- 'Making Social Spending Work'. Why did it take so long? What are the effects of social spending on growth? What are the threats to the welfare state? We finish by covering the reformers and non-reformers in tackling the looming pension crisis, as population ageing appears in many of the world's economies.
The Long Economic Shadow of World War II in Europe
In this episode, we chat with Prof. Tamás Vonyó about the long run variation in the impact of World War II across a range of European economies. We begin with discussing the comparative wartime destruction across regions (using Tamás' "5 D's") and then move on to contrast the growth experiences of Western Europe and Eastern Europe with these initial starting points in mind. We also revisit the 1980s collapse of the Eastern Bloc and reconsider the role of factor inputs as a cause of socialism's failure, as an alternative to the traditional narrative, which places the blame on productivity/innovation deficiencies.
The Great Enrichment
Prof. Deirdre McCloskey has written prolifically on a wide range of topics. In this episode, she discusses her trilogy of books which attempt to explain what she coined 'The Great Enrichment' since the nineteenth century. We discuss the use of language in economics, the potentially overstated role of physical capital, how liberalism spawned innovation and fostered ideas, as well as comparing some historical living standard examples throughout.
Economic Experiments in Extremism
Today, we meet Professor Hans-Joachim Voth to discuss some of his work on the economic forces around religious and political epochs characterised by extremism. We begin by reviewing the long term economic effects of the Spanish Inquisition and consider the historical roots of anti-semitism in explaining Nazi support centuries later. Finally, we look at how "social capital" may have negative effects in garnering support for extremist movements and look at the effects of road building on political votes for the Nazi party.
I love the guests and host. But am I crazy or is the audio so that there are no breaths by the guest and the audio is sped up? Please, a regular pace and breathing helps me keep up otherwise it’s a machine gun.
Interesting, engaging, and easy to follow
The content of the podcast is great: but informative interviews with knowledgeable guests on complex and interesting topics. The format is simple, just a one-on-one interview without breaks or sound effects. Yet somehow it is easy to stay engaged throughout, even if you are performing another task like driving, cooking, or cleaning.