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Economic History

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Forgot to blog about it at the time, but latest version of the Maddison Project was released a month ago. In my last post (on the MDP 2018), I noted that many of the results for Russia were very strange: The new figures make a lot more sense, to be frank. USSR/RSFSR-RF GDPcc as %... Read More
I find the comments on extractive elites to be very plausible and they would form an interesting complement to viewing them in terms of Mancur Olson's roving vs. stationary bandits theory, which is the main prism through which I view the differential development of institutions in the post-Soviet space. Ages ago, I read Jeff Sach's... Read More
There have been some recent debates on this blog's comments threads about human capital in Poland, Russia, and the West Russian lands while they were under Polish rule. While there is a consensus that Poland was more intellectually advanced than Russia, at least during the 17th century, the relative position of the Ukraine and Belorussia... Read More
This all rings true enough. I have always been skeptical about taking the mania for S&M business development too far - there are limits to the scope of the projects that they can take on, and on the extent that they can technologically upgrade entire sectors of the economy. Interestingly, this is also the position... Read More
One question people sometimes ask is how the intellectual/cultural/scientific output of the Byzantine Empire compared to Western Europe and/or Italy, its most advanced major region for most of the medieval period. How do we answer this? Quantify! Quantify! Quantify! In this post, I will attempt to provide a short "cliometrics"-based answer. Buringh, Eltjo, and Jan... Read More
Caracas, Venezuela. One curious thing about Venezuela that few people seem to have remarked upon is that Chavez and Maduro are not really all that hardcore about their class war. The latter assumed the powers of Congress in 2017, but didn't send armed men to round up the querulous parliamentarians. They continued to yack and... Read More
Some data on this topic. 1. Via Egor Kholmogorov's eponymous article for Komsomolskaya Pravda, source given as "Sovetskaya Rossiya 1992", according to which the RSFSR and Belarus were the only net donors. 2. Orlowski, Lucjan T. - 1995 - Direct transfers between the former Soviet Union central budget and the republics: Past evidence and current... Read More
The FLynn Effect has not acted uniformly across the various domains of intelligence. To put it very roughly, in the past century, the developed world has seen a two S.D. improvement on Raven's Progressive Matrices, hardly any improvement in verbal or Backward Digit Span tests, and a one S.D. improvement in various picture arrangement and... Read More
The Maddison Project is probably the world's most comprehensive source of economic history statistics. Begun by British economist Angus Maddison, it was continued after his death in 2010 by an institution at the University of Groningen. Recently, an update for 2018 has been released. Background paper: It was accompanied by a major introductory article at... Read More
The latest in our series of translations of Russian national-conservative thinker Egor Kholmogorov. Translated by: Fluctuarius Argenteus; slightly edited by AK. Original: *** It may seem strange that, at the turn of the 21st century, the word “Socialism” is back in the popular political idiom. The final decade of the preceding century seemed to have... Read More
At his blog Greg Cochran raises the issue of the Great Stagnation. Basically, GDP per capita growth rates throughout the developed world have plummeted relative to the levels of 1950-1973 (the years of the miracle economy, Wirtschaftswunder, trentes glorieuses, etc). They are however more or less typical of growth rates earlier in the century, substantially... Read More
In response to Razib's post. Economically, Communist regimes are far from monolithic. You had: State capitalist/"market socialist" countries like today's China and Belarus, the NEPist USSR, tradionally Communist-ruled Kerala for that matter. Note that even Western countries, e.g. dirigiste France, have flirted with this. Central planning as practiced from the late 1920s in the USSR,... Read More
In Western popular culture, and to be honest most of the rest of the world, Kazakhstan is most commonly associated with Borat and his putative homeland of slapstick provincial troglodytes. And following Nursultan Nazarbayev's 98% win in the recent elections, and his reaction to it... ... the casual observer might feel that it has some... Read More
The map below shows the shifting location of the world's economic center of gravity. It was compiled by McKinsey and reproduced by The Economist. All is broadly as one might expect. In pre-industrial times, the world's economic center of gravity was always basically triangulated between India, China, and the Roman Empire (later North-West Europe). By... Read More
Many Communists, leftists, and even patriots (I'm sorry to say) have a pronounced tendency to make out the Soviet economy as not quite the resounding failure it really was - or even to paint it as a success story that was only brought down by perestroika and liberal reforms. The above chart - based on... Read More
Pomeranz, Kenneth – The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy (2001) Category: economy, history, world systems; Rating: 5*/5 Summary: Brad DeLong's review; The Bactra Review; Are Coal and Colonies Really Crucial? It's a rare book that not only vastly informs you on a particular issue, but in so doing... Read More
The standard view of the American economy is one of exponential growth: even if interrupted by a recession once a decade and a Depression once every two generations (the 1890's, the 1930's, the 2010's?), the engines of industry would always come back roaring again. Output per American could always be expected to increase as it... Read More
It is now nearly 20 years since market reformers began liberalizing the economies of Eastern Europe, or as some smart-ass put it, trying to revive the fish in the centrally planned fish stews. These stews, cooked to diverse recipes from goulash socialism to Soviet "structural militarization", were subjected to a wide spectrum of overlapping treatments... Read More
Chang, Ha-Joon – Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective (2002) Category: economy; history; industrial policy; Rating: 5/5 Summary: Kicking Away the Ladder:How the Economic and Intellectual Histories of Capitalism Have Been Re-Written to Justify Neo-Liberal Capitalism (Ha-Joon Chang) Much has been said of the smug arrogance, cultural aloofness and end-of-history conceit characterizing... Read More
Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.