1. How might the evolution of economic thought be important to the increase in western
European living standards, as characterized by the Angus Maddison data?
2. Economic History is the study of historical events using the theoretical and empirical
methods of economics. Explain how this differs from studying the history of economic ideas.
3. Mercantilism took both an English and a French form. In which ways were the two forms
similar? In which ways were they different?
4. Suppose it is the year 1768, and you are chief assistant to Francois Quesnay, A group
of English intellectuals is visiting Paris, and you have been asked by Quesnay to describe
the Physiocratic system to them. A typical French person, you assume that your English
audience is comprised of ignorant dolts who are nonetheless eager for Enlightenment. What
would you tell them about Physiocratic thought? Be sure to consider, the background assumptions
of Physiocratic thought, the three classes, and their interaction as revealed by the
Tableau Economique, and the policy implications of your ideas.
5. What do Jean Baptiste Colbert and and Anne R.J. Turgot have in common, other than
their reputation as French economic thinkers? Contrast their differences in economic thought.
6. The living standards data compiled by the late Angus Maddison reveal a pattern in
which the material living standards of Western Europe were essentially “flat” from the year
1 CE to 1500 CE, and only start increasing dramatically post-1600 CE. The thesis has been
advanced that this rise in Western European material living standards correlates wit the
birth and development of Economic Thought/Theory, whereby men explicitly attempted
to rationalize the laws governing economic phenomena. Prior to 1700 CE, most of life in
Western Europe was organized around the dogma and kerygma of the Catholic Church, the
influence of which was increasingly diminishing post-1500 CE. Consider the Biblical passages
below from the Holy Bible:
• Leviticus 25:37. “You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your
food for profit.
• Luke 12:15. “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a
man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”’
• Timothy 6:10. “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted
after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many
• Philippians 4:19. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in
glory by Christ Jesus”.
a. Explain how, to the extent that Catholic dogma/kerygma was the dominant factor in organizing
life in Western Europe, subscription to each of these biblical injunctions could have
constituted the Economic Theory by which men understood, and governed over, economic
phenomena prior to 1700 CE.