Catalogue


Public debt and the birth of the democratic state [electronic resource] : France and Great Britain, 1688-1789 /
David Stasavage.
imprint
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2003.
description
xii, 210 p. : ill.
ISBN
0521809673
format(s)
Book
More Details
added author
imprint
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2003.
isbn
0521809673
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
8157848
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 189-205) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2003-12-01:
Stasavage (London School of Economics) examines the theory that governments gain trust and pay less to borrow when they are representative and constitutional. He uses game theory to argue that these characteristics will promote financial responsibility only where there is also strong party formation and a plural society. Then, to test his models, he turns to political history to explain the different patterns of public credit in England and France. But Stasavage's explanations may raise as many questions as they answer. Were the Whigs really in "full control" after 1715 when their majorities depended on satisfying landed, noncreditor interests? Indeed, did strong party rule account for England's credit experience from 1760 to 1789, years the author treats very briefly? Can readers assume that an estates general would have declared a bankruptcy in 1715 merely because St. Simon thought it should? And how far are we carried by the conclusion that French "political instability" in 1789 "seems to have been linked to the absence of a stable majority based on moderate policies"? These and other issues suggest the difficulty of construing a distant past to propose timeless answers--reason enough for providing Stasavage's book to graduate students and faculty. ^BSumming Up: University and research collections. G. F. Steckley Knox College
Reviews
Review Quotes
Review of the hardback: '... this stimulating study ... raises some fundamental questions about our understanding of the eighteenth-century state ... Stasavage has produced a work that will give historians of eighteenth-century politics and government finance much food for thought.' European History Quarterly
"...stimulating...based upon extensive reading in the secondary historical literature, and it raises some fundamental questions about our understanding of the eighteenth-century state." European History Quarterly
"Succinct and lucidly written, Public Debt and the Birth of the Democratic State is both a splendid introduction to a complex literature and a highly original contribution that is bound to generate new research and debate...His central discovery, that a regime's financial credibility depends as much on partisan politics as on institutions, can only enrich our understanding of the rise of the modern state." H-France Book Reviews
'... this stimulating study ... raises some fundamental questions about our understanding of the eighteenth-century state ... Stasavage has produced a work that will give historians of eighteenth-century politics and government finance much food for thought.' European History Quarterly
"Can readers assume that an estates general would have declared a bankruptcy in 1715 merely because St. Simon thought it should? And how far are we carried by the conclusion that French 'political instability' in 1789 'seems to have been linked to the absence of a stable majority based on moderate policies'? These and other issues suggest the difficulty of construing a distant past to propose timeless answers--reason enough for providing Stasavage's book to graduate students and faculty." Choice
"...offers a new approach to the subject. (Stasavage) is therefore able to buttress by his economic models the arguments previously advanced by historians to explain Britain's success and France's failure to develop an effective system of public credit in the eighteenth century. This makes his work of considerable value to those historians who have relied upon traditional approaches to these important questions." H.T. Dickinson, The International History Review
'... remarkably rich book ... intelligent and innovative ... a very comprehensive book on an interesting subject ... I have learned quite a few interesting things on the evolution of public debt management over the centuries and I have a feeling that many of us who discuss the pros and cons of public debt today would gain some useful insights by reading this book.' History of Economic Ideas
Review of the hardback: '... remarkably rich book ... intelligent and innovative ... a very comprehensive book on an interesting subject ... I have learned quite a few interesting things on the evolution of public debt management over the centuries and I have a feeling that many of us who discuss the pros and cons of public debt today would gain some useful insights by reading this book.' History of Economic Ideas
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, December 2003
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Summaries
Main Description
This book develops new theory about the link between debt and democracy and applies it to a classic historical comparison: Great Britain in the eighteenth century which had strong representative institutions and sound public finance vs. ancient regime France, which had neither. The book argues that whether representative institutions improve commitment depends on the opportunities for government creditors to form new coalitions with other social groups, more likely to occur when a society is divided across multiple political cleavages. It then presents historical evidence to show that improved access to finance in Great Britain after 1688 had as much to do with the development of the Whig Party as with constitutional changes. In France, it is suggested that the balance of partisan forces made it unlikely that an early adoption of 'English-style' institutions would have improved credibility.
Long Description
Does establishing representative democracy increase commitment to repaying public debt? This book develops a new theory about the link between debt and democracy and applies it to a classic historical comparison: eighteenth century Great Britain (which had strong representative institutions and sound public finance) vs. ancien regime France (which had neither). The study asserts that whether representative institutions improve commitment depends on the opportunities for government creditors to form coalitions with other groups. It is relevant to developing country governments with implications for government policy where credibility is a concern.
Description for Bookstore
This book develops new theory about the link between debt and democracy and applies it to a classic historical comparison: Great Britain in the eighteenth century which had strong representative institutions and sound public finance vs. ancient regime France, which had neither.
Bowker Data Service Summary
David Stasavage presents a novel theory about the link between debt & democracy, comparing Great Britain & France in the 18th century. He argues that the opportunites for government creditors to form coalitions with other social groups affects the credibitlity of representative institutions.
Description for Bookstore
Does establishing representative democracy increase commitment to repay public debt? This book develops new theory about the link between debt and democracy and applies it to a classic historical comparison: Great Britain in the eighteenth century which had strong representative institutions and sound public finance vs. ancien regime France, which had neither. The book argues that whether representative institutions improve commitment depends on the opportunities for government creditors to form coalitions with other groups. This study is relevant for developing country governments today, and has implications for the numerous areas of government policy where credibility is a concern.
Table of Contents
Introduction
A model of credible commitment under representative government
Historical background: sovereign borrowing in Europe before 1688
Trends in French and British sovereign borrowing 1689-1789
Partisan politics and public debt in Great Britain: 1689-1789
Partisan politics and public debt in France: 1689-1789
Stability of representative institutions in France and Great Britain
Conclusion
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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