What Became of Borders?

Working Papers

Economists have suggested at least since Mandeville and Smith that the virtues of capitalism lie in giving consumers what they want, and cheaply, through the vehicle of incentives to businesses and, in particular, their owners. It was the central task of economic theory in the twentieth century to show the precise sense in which, and conditions under which, this might be true.Read More

The Business of the Press

Published Research

The records of Oxford University Press for the three-quarters of a century from 1896 suggest an enterprise with very specific economic characteristics. It published a huge number of titles and sold them all over the world, but there was real uncertainty about what kinds of books or which specific titles would sell well, at least within any given period.Read More

How To Do Things with Time

Published Research

Sample selection bias is a common problem in the business history literature. This paper proposes methods for researching and writing the history of firms and industries designed to address the problem. The key elements are a forward-looking perspective and close attention to the development over time of selection environments, the resources individual firms can mobilize, and understanding an agency within the firm or firms.Read More

Real Estate Prices in Beijing, 1644-1840

Published Research

This paper provides the first estimates of housing price movements for Beijing in late pre-modern China. We hand-collect from archival sources transaction prices and other house attribute information from the 498 surviving house sale contracts for Beijing during the first two centuries of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1840), a long period without major wars, political turmoil, or significant institutional change in the Chinese capital.Read More

The Immaterial Text: Digital Technology, the Google Book Settlement, and the Distribution of Print Culture in the United States

Published Research

In 2004 the Internet search firm Google announced an ambitious plan to scan and render searchable the contents of major research libraries. This amounted to a large-scale effort to render the contents of the books into immaterial and easily manipulated and transferred information.Read More