The borrower from Hell

A book has arrived that will probably have to wait until my summer holiday, or at least Easter, but it has me mightily intrigued. It’s [amazon_link id=”0691151490″ target=”_blank” ]Lending to the Borrower from Hell: Debt, Taxes and Default in the Age of Philip II[/amazon_link], by Mauricio Drelichman and Hans-Joachim Voth.

[amazon_image id=”0691151490″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Lending to the Borrower from Hell: Debt, Taxes, and Default in the Age of Philip II (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World)[/amazon_image]

I know, I know. But if I’d not quixotically decided to apply to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford (to further my ambition of spending my life being a philosopher like [amazon_link id=”0007203942″ target=”_blank” ]Simone de Beauvoir[/amazon_link] in a Parisian cafe), and if I hadn’t got in, and if I’d not had a brilliant economics tutor in Peter Sinclair and so ended up being an economist, I would have done a history degree instead. At school we studied 16th and 17th century Europe – these were the days before British schools only taught the Tudors and the Nazis – and what times they were! [amazon_link id=”0099439832″ target=”_blank” ]Q[/amazon_link] by the Italian writing collective Luther Blisset gives a good flavour of it.

And as the intro to this book points out, in extraordinary times like 2008 and its aftermath, the long history of debt and default might hold useful lessons. Economists in general should pay more attention to economic history. History should be reintroduced as a requirement in all Econ PhD courses – I benefited greatly from courses by Barry Eichengreen and Steve Marglin in mine, possibly grumbling at the time, but young people don’t entirely know what’s good for them.

[amazon_image id=”0099439832″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Q[/amazon_image]

I’ve read the first three pages of [amazon_link id=”0691151490″ target=”_blank” ]The Borrower from Hell[/amazon_link] and am going to have to tear myself away….

2 thoughts on “The borrower from Hell

  1. Agreed, my reading of the bullion trading in the 18th and early 19th Century gave me a very different perspective on a lot of history at the time. Also, the parallel and ancillary effects of the severe shortages in small coin. Dare I say follow the money (and the credits)? These days we have far too many King Phillip II’s and too few Adam Smith’s.

  2. I also like very much Alfred D Chandler – his original work on railways and corporations an also later works on the internet economy

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