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A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy by Joel Mokyr
Andrei Shleifer, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, Copley Medal, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, delayed gratification, deliberate practice, Deng Xiaoping, Edmond Halley, epigenetics, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, framing effect, germ theory of disease, Haber-Bosch Process, hindsight bias, income inequality, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, land tenure, law of one price, Menlo Park, moveable type in China, new economy, phenotype, price stability, principal–agent problem, rent-seeking, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, the market place, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, ultimatum game, World Values Survey, Wunderkammern
By the eighteenth century a specially designated street in south Beijing had specialized in the book trade and became the book emporium of China. Lively book markets, however could be found throughout the Yang-zhi delta. These facts clearly refute any kind of facile explanation of the Great Divergence based on a human capital advantage that the West may have had over China.9 Chow (2004, pp. 248–52) points to the many apparent advantages enjoyed by Chinese publishers. They could choose between two alternative printing techniques (woodblock and moveable type) suitable for different print runs, and before the Qing revolution there was little formal censorship in China, even if politically sensitive publications could be risky. Chow also argues that unlike the strict guild system and licensing requirements in Europe, in China there was essentially free entry into the industry.
And yet recent attempts to compare the number of books published in China and Europe, despite many pitfalls in interpreting the numbers, have shown that the number of volumes published in China was a small fraction of what was published in Europe (McDermott, 2006, pp. 70–71).10 Van Zanden, who has done the most careful quantitative work on book publishing in China and the West, has concluded that “movable type printing did not really take off in China before 1800” (Van Zanden, 2013, p. 336). For the Chinese ideographic script, with its many thousands of characters, moveable type was simply not cost effective and printing remained largely confined to block printing.11 To be sure, this ratio is affected by the multiple editions and translations of the same book in Europe, so that the actual difference in the size of the intellectual menu was probably less than the large gap in the number of titles suggests. In China printing took off more slowly as Van Zanden’s dramatic diagram of the number of imprints in Europe and China shows abundantly (Van Zanden, 2013, p. 327).
Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger
en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Firefox, full text search, George Akerlof, information retrieval, information trail, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, moveable type in China, Network effects, packet switching, pattern recognition, RFID, slashdot, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, The Market for Lemons, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Vannevar Bush
Well into the middle of the eighteenth century, for the printing of the famed Encyclopedie, 68 livres of the total 105 livres (65 percent) were spent on the cost of paper alone.34 Even with the changes brought about by Gutenberg’s printing press and the Reformation movement, for most people using books remained an elusive mechanism of enhancing their memory. This fact wasn’t dissimilar outside Europe, albeit for different reasons. In Islam, printing (instead of a scribe’s copying) was seen as blasphemy, mocking the glory of God, and thus prohibited.35 In China, printing presses had been known for centuries, although they employed woodblocks, not Gutenberg’s flexible and efficient moveable type. Chinese remained a logographic language, more cumbersome to use than a phonographic one utilizing an alphabet; and the highly stratified Chinese society lacked the tensions that fermented the changes in Europe in the sixteenth century.36 The Koreans, too, had developed a printing press using moveable type. Unlike Gutenberg’s invention, however, it remained a tool of the court and the elites, who restricted the content mostly to Confucian works.37 Industrial pulp mills in the early nineteenth century finally lowered the price of paper, causing paper production to skyrocket.
Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future by Johan Norberg
agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, availability heuristic, Bartolomé de las Casas, Berlin Wall, British Empire, business climate, clean water, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, demographic transition, desegregation, Donald Trump, Flynn Effect, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, Haber-Bosch Process, Hans Island, Hans Rosling, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, John Snow's cholera map, Kibera, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, more computing power than Apollo, moveable type in China, Naomi Klein, open economy, place-making, Rosa Parks, special economic zone, Steven Pinker, telerobotics, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transatlantic slave trade, very high income, working poor, Xiaogang Anhui farmers
When Charlemagne was given an elaborate clock by the Caliph of Baghdad in 797, he did not understand what it was. At this time the Arabs were far ahead of Europe in science and technology, and kept Greek philosophy alive when it was all but forgotten in the West. At the same time, the Song dynasty ruled over an economically and culturally flourishing China. The rule of law and a higher degree of economic freedom resulted in a climate of innovation. The Chinese used moveable type, gunpowder and the compass – the three inventions Francis Bacon saw as the most important for the world as late as 1620. But the Ming dynasty, which took power in the fourteenth century, was hostile to technology and foreigners. It made oceanic navigation a capital offence and burned the great ships that might have discovered the world.
Capitalism: Money, Morals and Markets by John Plender
Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, business climate, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, computer age, Corn Laws, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, diversification, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, labour market flexibility, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, means of production, Menlo Park, moral hazard, moveable type in China, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit motive, quantitative easing, railway mania, regulatory arbitrage, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, Steve Jobs, technology bubble, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the map is not the territory, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, time value of money, too big to fail, tulip mania, Upton Sinclair, We are the 99%, Wolfgang Streeck
The Curse of Cash by Kenneth S Rogoff
Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, bank run, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, cashless society, central bank independence, cryptocurrency, debt deflation, distributed ledger, Edward Snowden, ethereum blockchain, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial intermediation, financial repression, forward guidance, frictionless, full employment, George Akerlof, German hyperinflation, illegal immigration, inflation targeting, informal economy, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, large denomination, liquidity trap, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, moveable type in China, New Economic Geography, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, payday loans, price stability, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, RFID, savings glut, secular stagnation, seigniorage, The Great Moderation, the payments system, transaction costs, unbanked and underbanked, unconventional monetary instruments, underbanked, unorthodox policies, Y2K, yield curve
The Chinese did use silver ingots as stores of wealth and as a medium of exchange, as the Middle East and Europe did before the Lydians, but these were not standardized and coined. Europe’s adoption of precious metals gave the European coinage much more versatility. Interestingly, though, China’s inferior coinage materials might have provided the impetus for its early introduction of paper money, the main technology we use today.15 China, of course, had fixed woodblock printing at least as far back as the Tang dynasty in the seventh century AD, and a moveable ceramic-type printing process around the time of the Song Dynasty in the eleventh century, long before Johannes Gutenberg produced his first Bible in 1455. The history of early paper money in China covers seven dynasties, each with its own monetary rules and institutions. In addition, the important province of Szechuan had its own currency for a time.16 But paper currency did not develop overnight.