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March 16, 2005

Sensitive Dependence of Answer on Grading Professor...

Barry Eichengreen and I are giving a makeup exam today:


Economics 210a Makeup Final Exam

Spring 2005

Answer one question from each part:

Part I

  1. How is it possible to have commerce without law? How much commerce are you likely to have without law?
  2. In what respects was the experience of humanity between the invention of agriculture and the industrial revolution "Malthusian"? In what respects is the Malthusian model inadequate to understanding pre-industrial economic history?

Part II

  1. Studies of both capital and labor markets have used the spatial dispersion of rates of return as a measure of market development. Is this a sensible way of analyzing this issue? What does it capture and what does it leave out? Studies applying this methodology to 19th century American factor markets seem to reach very different conclusions depending on the markets on which they focus. Describe these different conclusions. Are these differences indicative of the limitations of the methodology, or are they telling us something important about how markets develop and about American history?
  2. The speed with which Britain rose to become the first industrial nation and then lost its relative edge have struck economic historians as unusual and in need of explanation. Is the rapidity of these transformations in fact faster than we would have expected? If so, what factors in your estimation played major roles both in Britain’s ascent and in Britain’s relative decline?

Part III

  1. Historical studies of the classical and interwar gold standard pay close attention to the so-called “rules of the game.” What were these rules? When were they invented? Is this focus on the so-called rules of the game a productive way of understanding differences in the operation of the international gold standard in these two periods?
  2. It is sometimes argued that the case of the United States does not conform to the "international interpretation" of the Great Depression that has been extensively discussed in recent years. In what respects, if any, does U.S. experience in the 1920s and 1930s differ from that of other industrial countries. Do these differences suggest that international factors have less to say about this country’s Depression experience?


The interesting thing is that the correct answer to III.2 depends heavily on whether Barry or I am grading it. I say that the "international interpretation" by and large doesn't apply to the U.S.--it's a small part of the story (while it is an enormously large part of the story outside the U.S.) Barry says that the Great Depression in the U.S. is not that different from the Great Depression elsewhere.

I hope we made it clear that Barry is grading III.2...

Posted by DeLong at March 16, 2005 06:44 PM