Economics, History and Economic History in Stefano Fenoaltea's Cliometrics

Online Symposium in honor of Stefano Fenoaltea (1943-2020), co-organised by ASE and Fondazione Luigi Einaudi Onlus on November 12, 2021.

Economics, History and Economic History in Stefano Fenoaltea's Cliometrics

Stefano Fenoaltea (1943-2020) passed away on 14th September 2020. He played a central role in introducing cliometrics in Italy. His research project, to which he devoted more than 50 years – almost all of his entire brilliant career – provided new ideas, put forward challenging new interpretations of Italian economic history during the Liberal Age, while, at the same time, bringing about a new methodological fresh air.

Economic historians should not disregard the minutiae of the reconstruction of the dynamics of individual industries, too, his deep and wise use of historical sources. Fenoaltea’s methodological lesson is not just about Italy’s economic history. All quantitative economic historians, regardless of the countries covered by their research, should study the analytical method he employed to deal with sources – and his acumen in using economic theory to understand them. Historical production series was definitely his field but it showed his logical and theoretical mastery also in other topics such as slave governance in antiquity and in the New World.

Fenoaltea’s deep methodological awareness led him to develop a thorough reflection on methodology itself. He refused methodological platitudes and framed his scientific activity within a large cultural background, claiming the importance of European classical studies. He felt strongly the need for a genuine cross-fertilization of economics and economic history with other disciplines, such as anthropology, sociology and philosophy.

On this background the Associazione per la Storia Economica (ASE) and Fondazione Luigi Einaudi, two institutions that took great advantage from Fenoaltea’s scientific engagement over the last years of activity, are organizing a joint workshop to reassess Fenoaltea’s legacy, not least to promote it among younger scholars, whom will be provided special attention in the selection process.

The symposium will be livestreamed on the newly created ASE YouTube channel, which you can find here. Following the event, the video will be saved on the Fondazione Einaudi YouTube channel, where it will be possible to find it in the future.


November 12, 2021

9:30−9:45 Welcome Remarks:

Alberto Baffigi (Banca d'Italia)
Giovanni Vecchi (University of Rome Tor Vergata, ASE)

9:45−10:15 Opening Address in honor of Stefano Fenoaltea:

Ignazio Visco (Governor, Banca d'Italia)

10:15-13:00 Workshop - Panel 1:
Chair: Vera Zamagni (U. di Bologna)

10:15-10:45 Paolo Di Martino (U. di Torino)
Central banks’ intervention in exchange rate markets during the gold standard: Italy 1880-1913

10:45-11:15 Coffee Break

11:15-11:45 Andrea Papadia (Bonn U.) and Albrecht Ritschl (LSE)
The Italian Business Cycle from Unification to the Great War: A Disaggregate Approach

11:45-12:15 Antonio Iodice (U. Exeter) and Luigi Oddo (U. di Genoa) Do transaction costs explain the “Northern Invasion”? Sea risks and general average’s economic impact analysed through an LSDV model

12:15-12:45 Marco Martinez (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna di Pisa) and Filippo Battiston (U. di Pisa) Rome and the Polis: Tradition and Change in the Civic Financial Accounts of Tauromenion, I Century b.C.

12:45-14:00 Lunch break

14:00-16:00 Workshop – Panel 2
Chair: Giulia Mancini (U. di Roma “Tor Vergata”)

14:00-14:30 Renato Giannetti (U. di Firenze)
Left behind? Chiffres, theory and measurement: Fenoaltea and the history of historical economics

14:30-15:00 Roberto Bonfatti (U. di Padova), Giovanni Facchini (U. di Milano), Alexander Tarasov (HSE U.), Gian Luca Tedeschi (U. di Padova) and Cecilia Testa (Nottingham U.)
The political Economy of Italian Railway Expansion, 1876-1890

15:00-15:30 Wasiq Khan (American University of Nigeria)
Testing Stefano Fenoaltea’s Hypothesis on the Origins of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

15:30-16:00 Deirdre McCloskey (Illinois U.)
The Fenoaltea Method: How Science Actually Advances

16:00-16:30 Coffee break

16:30-18:00 In memoriam Stefano Fenoaltea Session

- Richard Sylla (NYU Stern)
- Andrea Brandolini (Bank of Italy)
- Giacomo Gabbuti (Scuola Superiore S.Anna Pisa)
- Oddný Helgadóttir (Copenhagen Business School)
- Charles Maier (Harvard U.)
- Deirdre McCloskey (Illinois U.)
- Gianni Toniolo (LUISS)
- Hans-Joachim Voth (U. of Zurich)

18:00-18:15 Closing Remarks
Mario Cedrini (Annals della Fondazione Luigi Einaudi)
Alessandro Nuvolari (Rivista di Storia Economica)