What causes labor coercion? It appears informally in most economies, but in some it prevails as a formal system of slavery or serfdom, with wide economic repercussions. Serfdom existed in most European economies for long periods between c. 800 and c. 1860. In many serf economies, most rural families were obliged to do coerced labor for landlords. Since the rural economy produced 80 to 90 percent of pre-industrial GDP, serfdom affected the majority of economic activity.
We provide a new justification for the widespread use of debt finance as an alternative to equity finance. We show that when the returns of investment projects can only be partially observed by outside financiers, and this partial observation is itself costly, then the optimal contract agreed between entrepreneurs and outside financiers takes the form of a standard debt contract.
It is well-known that patterns of regional specialization and the spatial concentration of manufacturing industries have changed markedly over time. Kim and Margo (2004) describe a trajectory where regional divergence developed in the context of industrialization during the late 19th and early 20th centuries but was then superseded by regional convergence in the second half of the 20th century. Holmes and Stevens (2004) stress that this latter phase is notable for the decline of the manufacturing belt in which 70 per cent of manufacturing employment was located in 1947 but only 40 per cent by 1999.
Sometimes the price of certain foods rise suddenly and exponentially. For example, earlier this year it was iceberg lettuce, broccoli and courgettes in the UK, while in the US and Canada it was cauliflowers and lettuce, and more recently there have been sharp rises in the price of avocados. And it may only be a matter of time until we hear about an increase in the price of wine from France and Italy as a result of the poor grape harvest in 2017.
Currently spiking in price are Brazil nuts: the price of the nuts rose 61% during the middle of 2017. Is this another example of price volatility that consumers will have to get used to, or are Brazil nuts a special case?
On Friday 29 September, the School of Economics hosted a workshop on the economics of networks. Organised by Nizar Allouch and Bansi Malde, the workshop brought together leading researchers working on both theoretical and empirical topics within this area. The speakers were Sanjeev Goyal (Cambridge), Yann Bramoullé (Aix-Marseille School of Economics), Gabrielle Demange (EHESS and Paris School of Economics), Cynthia Kinnan (Northwestern), Friederike Mengel (Essex) and Julien Labonne (Oxford).