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Die Bedeutung der Geschichte für die Wirtschafts-wissenschaften und der ökonomischen Theorie für die Geschichtsforschung


  • Peter Bernholz


Economics and historical analysis have much to learn from each other, a fact more and more neglected in research and theory building, and especially in university instruction in German-speaking countries. The lecture tries to illustrate this by demonstrating that certain economic relationships like Gresham's law asserting that bad money drives out good with fixed exchange rates have been valid at least since Aristophanes. Similarly, it is also shown that the substitution of bad by good money (Thiers' law) and that similar magnitudes of overshooting of exchange rates, given flexible rates, during high inflation, have been present for at least four centuries. These results refute the hypothesis asserted by some well-known historians that there can be no economic laws valid in different and distant periods of history. And second, the evidence proves the usefulness of putting the hypotheses of economics to the test of history. For instance the observation that the maximal overshooting of flexible currencies showing moderate inflations has been about 30% since the seventeenth century casts doubt on modern theories asserting that such deviations are a consequence of the huge increase of capital movements in recent decades. Moreover, many open questions in economics can only be answered by looking at events which occurred in earlier historical periods. One such question is at which rates of inflation Thiers's law begins to operate, since it obviously does not work at moderate rates of inflation. Copyright Verein für Socialpolitik und Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 2005

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Bernholz, 2005. "Die Bedeutung der Geschichte für die Wirtschafts-wissenschaften und der ökonomischen Theorie für die Geschichtsforschung," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 6(2), pages 131-150, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:perwir:v:6:y:2005:i:2:p:131-150

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bernholz, Peter & Gartner, Manfred & Heri, Erwin W., 1985. "Historical experiences with flexible exchange rates : A simulation of common qualitative characteristics," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1-2), pages 21-45, August.
    2. P. N. Ireland, 2003. "Bernholz, P.: Monetary Regimes and Inflation: History, Economic and Political Relationships," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 80(3), pages 272-276, November.
    3. Uribe, Martin, 1997. "Hysteresis in a simple model of currency substitution," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 185-202, September.
    4. Dornbusch, Rudiger, 1976. "Expectations and Exchange Rate Dynamics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1161-1176, December.
    5. Redish, Angela, 2003. "Monetary Regimes and Inflation: History, Economics and Political Relationships. By Peter Bernholz. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2003. Pp. xi, 210. $85.00," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63(04), pages 1171-1173, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Bernholz, 2015. "The Swiss Experiment: From the Lower Bound to Flexible Exchange Rates," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 35(2), pages 403-410, Spring/Su.
    2. Charles B. Blankart, 2013. "Oil and Vinegar: A Positive Fiscal Theory of the Euro Crisis," CESifo Working Paper Series 4426, CESifo Group Munich.

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