I hope that my co-authors and I will not have earned the label of ‘casual empiricism’ — that ‘highly pejorative characterization’ described by Charles Kindleberger as flung at the more traditional methods by the ‘new’ (now ageing) economic history.1 There are many plots, sub-plots and counter-plots by which the arguments for ‘decline’ are so vigorously maintained. Industries failed in one quarter, individual entrepreneurs in another, technological advance favoured a nation here and an industry there while others found themselves floundering in the wake. All kinds of demons can be unmasked. But it is difficult to feel much generalized alarm at the numbers supplied by the Commercial Department of Britain’s Board of Trade (see Table 7.1).


Fair Trade Foreign Trade Economic History Exchange Rate Appreciation Generalize Alarm 
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  1. 1.
    C.P. Kindleberger, Economic Response (Cambridge, Mass. 1978), p. 224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 11.
    T. Penn Gaskell, The Coming Great Depression in Trade (London, 1914), p. 7.Google Scholar
  3. 21.
    Eric J. Hobsbawm, Industry and Empire, from 1750 to the Present Day (Penguin edn, London, 1969), p. 191.Google Scholar

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© S. H. Platt 1993

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  • D. C. M. Platt

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