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History of Economic Ideas

Vol. XXIV, 2016/2


Theodore P. LIANOS, Aristotle on Population Size, 11-26

Aristotle in his Politics, discusses: the territorial size of the city-state, the division of the land between public and private, the size of the population, and the desired per citizen product which is determined on the basis of the concept of good life. In this paper the above elements are combined to construct a model which describes the long-run equilibrium position of the economy of the city-state. This position is determined by the optimal land population ratio and it is reached through changes in population by means of birth control policies.

Abdul Azim ISLAHI, Exploration in Medieval Arab-Islamic Economic Thought: Some Aspects of al-Asadi's Economics, 27-49

This paper discusses economic ideas of al-Asadī, a fifteenth-century writer on socioeconomic problems. His work al-Taysīr (The Facilitation) is a good example of the mirror for princes written in the later middle ages of the Arab-Islamic history. He suggested efficient market administration, public distribution of food, elimination of monopolies, monetary reform, management of public income and expenditure, use of statistics, though embryonic, in production and distribution, and measurement of inflation. The depth and significance of his ideas remains largely unexplored. The present paper attempts to address this need.


D. Wade HANDS, Crossing in the Night of the Cold War: Alternative Visions and Related Tensions in Western and Soviet General Equilibrium Theory, 51-74

This paper extends various arguments in the recent historical literature on Soviet mathematical economics during the Cold War. It examines some of the tensions associated with the attempt to blend Walrasian economics and Soviet planning. The main argument is that the two literatures crossed in the night of the Cold War. Given the two different political-economic and scientific contexts, the aspect of the Walrasian vision most emphasized in the Western literature was exactly the opposite of the aspect most emphasized in the Soviet literature. For Western economists the main concern was how (how possibly) competitive market prices could coordinate the actions of heterogeneous economic agents, while the main concern of Soviet scholars was how (how possibly) the theory of competitive markets could be used to help facilitate the efficient implementation of a central planning mechanism with a single (social) goal. Many features of the mathematics were the same, but the different goals and contexts created various tensions within the mathematical models produced by the two scientific communities.

Muhammad Zahid SIDDIQUE, Mazhar IQBAL, Theory of Islamic Banking: from Genesis to Degeneration, 75-110

Islamic banking was launched as an alternative of interest based banking. Pioneers of Islamic banking defined profit-and-loss sharing as the desirable alternative. As far modes involving fixed return, they were either not considered by the pioneers or were deemed only permissible but not desirable. But the practice of Islamic banking did not follow this ‘idealist theory’ and relied heavily on ‘undesirable’ contracts. Later on, pragmatic approach to Islamic banking questioned the priority associated with PLS business forms and justified the modeling of Islamic banking using even controversial contracts. The paper shows that these developments in Islamic banking theory were not meant to overcome the problems that hindered the practice of its first best theory but to accommodate Islamic banking transactions according to the needs of interest based system. This academic approach could not result in the alternative of the conventional system rather leads to integration within it. Thus, Islamic banking theorists adopted a strategy that is largely responsible for the current state of affairs in Islamic banking. To take industry out of it, a shift in its approach from accommodationist to transformationist strategy is required.

Joao Carlos GRACA, Teresa NUNES, The Liberal State, Economic Development and the Crisis of the 1890s: Joao Crisóstomo and José Frederico Laranjo, 111-140

Founded in 1876, the Portuguese Progressive Party sought to serve as an alternative political formation to the then ruling Regenerator Party. Whilst fairly unanimous in its critique of the so-called ‘material improvements’ policy, the party did not, however, produce any coherent economic option. Although generally in favour of budgetary ‘economies’, in line with prevailing nineteenth-century liberal thinking, the Progressives have not reached full internal agreement on this matter, even less so as regards the issue of protectionism versus free-trade. This paper describes the huge diversity of ideas within the party, as exemplified by the cases of João Crisóstomo and José Frederico Laranjo.

Tomas NIKODYM, Lukas NIKODYM, Jana BRHELOVA, Antonín Basch and the Economic Nature of WWII: A Liberal Approach, 141-164

The study deals with the history of economic thought in Czechoslovakia after the Second World War. Special emphasis has been placed on the contribution of Antonín Basch. Basch was one of the last Czechoslovak economists who attended Ludwig von Mises’ Seminars and retained his liberal opinions after the Second World War. Our study focuses on a comparison of Basch’ work to the economic thought of the representatives of the Czechoslovak government and President Edvard Beneš, in particular the proposals for the post-war economic order. The prevailing idea proposed the combination of democracy, which was understood as the only guarantee of freedom, and economic planning. On the other hand, Basch strongly criticized these proposals and claimed that sustainable peace is only possible under a system of free trade and voluntary cooperation between individuals and nations.

Andrea PACELLA, Riccardo REALFONZO, Guido TORTORELLA ESPOSITO, The Employment Protection Controversy in the Years of Labour Market Reforms (1990-2014), 165-194.

This paper offers a deep review of the contemporary economic literature on the effects of changes in labour market institutions, employment protection in particular, on labour market performances and growth. It makes a detailed comparison between the Neo Keynesian approach and the Post Keynesian one showing that while Post Keynesian scholars share a critical view of the ineffectiveness of labour market deregulation, the Neo Keynesian paradigm contains contrasting conclusions about the outcomes of flexibility. Nevertheless, international organizations (OECD in particular), often formulate their studies and policy recommendations neglecting the complexity of the scientific debate.

Short Articles and Notes

Richard J. KENT, Kahn-Hicks' Criticism of the Independence of Prices; in Keynes's Treatise on Money. A Correction, 197-201

Robert W. DIMAND, A Response to Michel De Vroey's Review of James Tobin, 203-204


Book reviews

Christos P. BALOGLOU, Aristotle's Economic Philosophy, 207-212


Heinz D. Kurz and Neri Salvadori (eds), The Elgar Companion to David Ricardo (Alessandro Roncaglia)

Kenneth Dyson, States, Debt & Power: "Saints" and "Sinners" in; European History and Integration (Paolo Leti)

Michel S. Zouboulakis, The Varieties of Economic Rationality. From Adam Smith to Contemporary Behavioural and Evolutionary Economics (Enrico Petracca)

Piero Barucci, Simone Misiani and Manuela Mosca (eds), La cultura economica tra le due guerre (Giulia Bianchi)

Alvaro Cencini and Sergio Rossi, Economic and Financial Crisis: A New Macroeconomic Analysis (Pierre-Hernan Rojas)

Richard Pomfret, The Age of Equality: The Twentieth Century in Economic Perspective (Charles R. McCann, Jr.)