Thursday, July 07, 2011

Greif et al were all wrong?

Havent thought about Economic history since grad school but I came across this paper arguing that the empirical basis of Milgrom north and weingast and greifs community responsibility system that private order
was the basis of medieval trade was all wrong. This was a bit disturbing as I still talk about how the medieval champagne fairs and private law was the basis of international trade in class and seeing the animatronic law merchants in provins France is still one of my best vacation memories. The authors have another paper trashing greifs magrhibi traders paper. And I have thought of north and weingast (on how parliament's ability to tie the king's hand by forcing the king to pay back its debts allowed England to borrow lots more money and thus win its wars) a lot recently in face of recent sovereign debt defaults and the current debt ceiling silliness but I remember that the empirical basis of their story was wrong too.

I wonder if this is just the normal dialectic of history scholarship or is everything we learned from analytic narratives all wrong?

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