New book explores America's story through economist's eye
Eller College economics professor Price Fishback leads collaboration of 16 prominent economists in exploring nation's economic revolution
TUCSON, Ariz. – MAY 16, 2007 – The fundamentals of American history take on a new perspective when viewed through the lens of economics. Sixteen leading U.S. economic historians, led by Price Fishback, the Eller College of Management’s Frank and Clara Kramer Professor of Economics, have collaborated on a recently published book, Government and the American Economy: A New History.
“The U.S. economy has been among the most successful in the world because our government has done more than most to provide a stable administration of justice and to protect individual property rights and economic freedom,“ said Fishback. This book examines the story of America’s economic evolution from colonial outpost to global giant.
Each of Fishback’s coauthors is a recognized economic expert on a period in American history ― a who’s who of scholars from colleges and universities across the nation. Douglass C. North, who, along with Robert W. Fogel, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1993, begins the book with his preface remarks. The rest is a thoughtful collaboration that interweaves the stories of American enterprise for the American public.
“The idea was to write a book for the general public that highlights a large body of economic research that hasn’t yet made it into the popular history books,” said Fishback.
According to the authors, the impact of government on businesses and the individual entrepreneur has changed dramatically through the years. For example, in the 1890s an entrepreneur may have only had to meet local zoning and building code requirements. Today’s entrepreneurs must satisfy requirements set by a host of agencies at all levels, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Environmental Protection Agency, to name just two at the federal level.
“People often think of the federal government as THE government,” said Fishback. “But state and local governments play considerable roles. In fact, the balance in power among these entities has cycled over time,” he explained. “The Constitution gave the national government a restricted role, so the states dominated economic policy making until the 1860s and the Civil War.“ Once the war ended, power reverted back to the local level. From 1865 to 1910, the majority of government investment in the economy occurred at the state and local levels on projects such as schools, roads, and sanitation.
Government and the American Economy: A New History includes chapters dedicated to special topics. For example, the origins of regulations in a wide range of industries are explored. According to Fishback, employers often played a major role in labor reforms, like minimum wage and child labor laws. While this may not seem logical, he explained that “in order for legislation to pass, a coalition of reformers partnered with a group of employers. These were employers who were already following a practice for one reason or another and they could use the legislation as a club to damage competitors.”
The Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona is internationally recognized for pioneering research, innovative curriculum, distinguished faculty, excellence in management information systems, entrepreneurship, and social responsibility. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller undergraduate program #12 among public business schools and two of its programs are among the top 20 — Entrepreneurship and MIS. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller MBA Full-Time program #48 in the U.S. The College leads the nation’s business schools in generating grant funds for research. In addition to a Full-Time MBA program, the Eller College offers the 25th ranked Evening MBA program, the Eller Executive MBA and the Online MBA. The Eller College of Management supports more than 5,000 undergraduate and 600 graduate students on the UA campus in beautiful Tucson, Arizona.
Liz Warren-Pederson, Eller College of Management
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