Call For Papers: Brazilian Workshop in Economic History, Insper, 2018

The Brazilian Workshop in Economic History, organized at the Department of Economics of the University of São Paulo, has promoted the interaction of Brazilian-based researchers and graduate students of economic history in the past four years.

With the goal of broadening and internationalizing our network, we are opening a call for papers for the 5th Workshop, which will be held at Insper, São Paulo, on 16th and 17th August 2018. We invite researchers to submit papers to until 2nd April 2018. A committee formed by Renato Perim Colistete (FEA-USP), William Summerhill (UCLA), and Leonardo Weller (EESP-FGV) will evaluate the submissions.

The Workshop is organized as a series of one-hour, single-paper sessions attended by all participants. Nine papers will be selected for presentation and discussion. The committee will announce the list of the selected articles on 15th May 2018. William Summerhill will provide the keynote address.

The committee welcomes working papers with research-based results relevant to the literature, written in Portuguese or English. We invite the submission of papers that draw upon primary evidence and employ appropriate analytical tools, regardless of the period and topic of analysis. Even though the workshop is meant to focus on Brazilian economic history, the committee may accept papers on other countries. The Workshop will cover hotel accommodation and meals for one presenter of every accepted paper, while participants will be responsible for their travel expenses.

Main dates:

Submission deadline – 2nd April 2018, please e-mail the papers to

Announcement of the selected papers – 15th May 2018

Workshop – 16th and 17th August 2018, Insper, São Paulo.

Chamada de Trabalhos: Workshop de História Econômica do Brasil, Insper, 2018

Nos últimos quatro anos, o Workshop de História Econômica” organizado na FEA-USP tem reunido pesquisadores(as) e alunos(as) de pós-graduação que realizam trabalhos acadêmicos baseados em análise econômica e histórica, com uso intensivo de fontes primárias, tanto quantitativas quanto qualitativas.

Com o intuito de envolver mais interessados nessa iniciativa, estamos lançando esta chamada de trabalhos para o 5º Workshop a ser realizado em 2018. Desta vez o evento ocorrerá no Insper, em São Paulo, nos dias 16 e 17 de agosto de 2018. Convidamos os(as) pesquisadores(as) interessados(as) em submeter seus trabalhos a enviá-los para o e-mail até o dia 2 de abril de 2018. Os artigos serão selecionados por um comitê composto por Renato Perim Colistete (FEA-USP), William Summerhill (UCLA), e Leonardo Weller (EESP-FGV), que divulgará os resultados em 15 de maio de 2018.

O Workshop é destinado a trabalhos que resultem de pesquisa nova, de boa qualidade, com contribuições relevantes, uso de métodos quantitativos e qualitativos apropriados para os temas abordados e com ênfase em fontes de arquivos resultantes de pesquisa original. O evento é estruturado em sessões de uma hora, com apresentação e discussão individual de nove trabalhos ao todo. Contamos com a participação de William Summerhill como keynote speaker.

O principal objetivo é apoiar os(as) autores(as) no desenvolvimento de suas respectivas pesquisas. Assim, encorajamos o envio de artigos em formato de working paper, ainda não completamente finalizados mas já com resultados robustos; ou aqueles já concluídos mas que ainda se beneficiariam de comentários e sugestões de um público especializado. A forma e apresentação dos artigos são importantes, porém não fundamentais. O aspecto crucial é que os trabalhos se baseiem em análise de fontes primárias e que apresentem contribuições originais à literatura relevante, independentemente do período e do tema abordados. Apesar do Workshop ter como foco a história econômica do Brasil, o comitê poderá aceitar trabalhos cujos temas envolvam outros países. Os textos podem ser submetidos em português ou inglês.

As despesas com hospedagem e refeições para um(a) autor(a) de cada trabalho aprovado serão cobertas pelo evento, enquanto o transporte ficará a cargo dos participantes.

Principais datas:

Prazo de submissão – até 2 de abril 2018, envie artigo para o e-mail

Anúncio dos artigos selecionados – 15 de maio de 2018

Workshop – 16 e 17 de agosto de 2018, Insper, São Paulo.

Inglorious Revolution: Political Institutions, Sovereign Debt, and Financial Underdevelopment in Imperial Brazil

Yale university press, 2015

Government debt crises are a fact of political and economic life. By the middle of the 19th century most Latin American states had become what modern scholars have labeled "serial defaulters."

Inglorious Revolution shows that Imperial Brazil (1822-1889) was a key exception.  The political institutions of constitutional monarchy provided an effective penalty for default in Brazil, much as they had done in Britain more than a century before. This credibly committed the government to repay its debts. Beginning in the 1820s bankers in London structured Brazil's loans in sterling, while Rio de Janeiro's merchants and slave traders made loans in local currency. Since parliament always budgeted funds to service the debt, Brazil's bondholders on both sides of the Atlantic always received their interest payments. The result was continuous access to capital markets. This achievement constituted nothing less than a revolution in public finance.

Given Imperial Brazil's enviable record of government borrowing, one would expect it to undergo a broad-based revolution in private finance.  This study shows it did not. Restrictive and arbitrary controls over incorporation, and regulatory barriers to entry by banks, created financial underdevelopment. The same political institutions that fostered credible public finance stymied innovation in private capital markets. In terms of its consequences for financial development, Brazil's rupture with absolutist government at independence was an inglorious revolution.


Inglorious Revolution highlighted in Elio Gaspari's column in the Folha de S.Paulo and O Globo (February 2016); Inglorious Revolution reviewed by Leonardo Monasterio for Pesquisa e Planejamento Econômico (December, 2017); by José Augusto Ribas Miranda ["Da Rua Direita à Lombard Street"] in Revista de História (2017), with synopsis at "Por que o Brasil não teve uma Wall Street?" (2018); by Kirsten Schultz in American Historical Review (October 2016); Zephyr Frank in Business History Review (December, 2016); by Anne Hanley at (June, 2016); by Gail Triner in Journal of Economic History (December 2016); by Melissa Teixeira at H-LatAm (May 2017); by Rafael Ioris in History: Reviews of New Books (December, 2016); by Ulisses Ruiz-de-Gamboa ["Como era solvente meu Império"] in Diário do Comércio (March 2016); by Asher Levine in Americas Quarterly  ["What a 19th Century Default Says About Brazil's Crisis Today"] (Winter 2016); Inglorious Revolution recommended reading at Casa das Garças (February 2016); ; profiled by the research foundation of the state of São Paulo (FAPESP), ["Quem não deve não tem crédito"]


"Using a vast array of archival evidence Summerhill convincingly shows that political commitment to a secure public debt was neither necessary nor sufficient to insure financial development in nineteenth century Brazil. A must-read for economic and financial historians and for anyone interested in the politics of financial development."--Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, California Institute of Technology

"A critical weakness of much scholarship on long-run economic development is that it makes generalizations from a few salient histories, usually of European countries. In Britain change in political institutions allowing the government to borrow apparently led to a financial revolution. But this brilliant book shows that exactly analogous political changes in Brazil did not have the same consequences. A Trojan horse in the conventional wisdom."--James A. Robinson, University of Chicago

"Inglorious Revolution addresses a frontier question in political economy: new states need sources of finance, but how can a new state make a credible commitment to its creditors that it will repay its debts? Inglorious Revolution shows that Brazil solved this commitment  problem by creating a constitutional monarchy in which parliament held the reins of power and was composed of a tight knit class of merchants and planters who were the state's creditors. Credibility came at a cost however, because this merchant-planter elite made sure that almost nothing happened in Brazil without their say-so, and they almost never said yes. Nineteenth century Brazil therefore had stable public finances, and avoided the endless coups and civil wars that plagued new states in Latin America and Africa, but it remained economically backward."--Stephen Haber, Stanford University

"This volume is one of the most original studies of 19th century Brazilian public finance published in any language.  It not only provides a wealth of original research material but has raised fundamental issues about why Imperial Brazil’s extraordinary record of international credit in the 19th century did not lead to a major financial and capital development.  Does this unusual case of a credit worthy state which still did not grow provide a useful counterbalance to the theories of economic growth. Summerhill makes a good argument for this thesis and thus the book will prove to be of much broader interest to the field of economic history and economic development."--Herbert S. Klein, Columbia University & Stanford University

"Inglorious Revolution is a welcome contribution to Brazilian economic history. This polished, original book will become the main reference for the study of imperial Brazil for historians and economic historians in the years to come.”Aldo Musacchio, Harvard Business School and Brandeis International Business School

Selected Publications


Inglorious Revolution: Political Institutions, Sovereign Debt, and Financial Underdevelopment in Imperial Brazil (Yale University Press, 2015)

Order Against Progress: Government, Foreign Investment, and Railroads in Brazil, 1854-1913 (Stanford University Press, 2003) [considerably more affordable at the Press]


"The Characteristics of Coffee Production and Agriculture in the State of São Paulo in 1905," (with Francisco Vidal Luna and Herbert S. Klein), Agricultural History, vol. 90, no.1 (2016)

"A Agricultura Paulista em 1905," (with Francisco Vidal Luna and Herbert S. Klein), Estudos Econômicos, vol. 44, no. 1 (2014)

"Fiscal Bargains, Political Institutions, and Economic Performance," Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 88, no. 2 (2008): 219-33

Big Social Savings in a Small Laggard Economy: Railroad-led Growth in Brazil, Journal of Economic History, vol. 65, no. 1 (Mar., 2005), 72-102

"State bank transformation in Brazil – choices and consequences," (with Thorsten Beck and Juan Crivelli), Journal of Banking and Finance, vol. 29, nos. 8-9 (2005), 2223-2257

"Market Intervention in a Backward Economy: Railway Subsidy in Brazil, 1854-1913." Economic History Review, Vol. 53, no. 3 (1998): 542-568


"The New Economic History of Latin America: Evolution and Recent Contributions" (with John H. Coatsworth), in Jose Moya, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Latin American History (Oxford University Press, 2010)

"Credible Commitment and Sovereign Default Risk: Two Bond Markets and Imperial Brazil," in Stephen H. Haber, Douglass C. North, and Barry R. Weingast, eds., Political Institutions and Financial Development (Stanford University Press, 2008)

"The Development of Infrastructure," in Victor Bulmer-Thomas, John H. Coatsworth, and Roberto Cortés Conde, eds., The Cambridge Economic History of Latin America, Vol. II, The Long Twentieth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2006)

“Order, Disorder, and Economic Change: Latin America vs. North America,” (with Douglass C. North and Barry R. Weingast), in Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Hilton Root, eds., Governing for Prosperity (Yale University Press, 2000) [published in Spanish as "Orden, Desorden y Cambio Económico: Latinoamérica vs. Norte América," in Revista Instituciones y Desarrollo, no. 12-13 (2002)]

"Railroads in Imperial Brazil," in John H. Coatsworth and Alan M. Taylor, eds., Latin America and the World Economy in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: Explorations in Quantitative Economic History (Harvard University Press, 1998)

"Transport Improvements and Economic Growth in Brazil and Mexico," in Stephen H. Haber, ed. How Latin America Fell Behind: Essays on the Economic Histories of Brazil and Mexico, 1800-1914 (Stanford University Press, 1997) [published in Spanish as Cómo se rezagó la América Latina: ensayos sobre las historias económicas de Brasil y México. 1800-1914 (Fundo de Cultura Económica, 1999)]



William Summerhill is Professor of History, and the Dr. E. Bradford Burns Chair in Latin American Studies at UCLA. Most of his research concerns Brazil's economic history, including the political economy of sovereign debt, banking and finance, railroads and the provision of infrastructure, and inequality.

He collaborates with Samuel de Abreu Pessôa and Edmilson Varejão (FGV) in a project on the economic impact of education and education policy in twentieth-century Brazil; with Renato Perim Colistete (FEA-USP) on rural wealth in the nineteenth century; and with Leonardo Monasterio (IPEA) in a big-data, group project on long-run social mobility in Brazil. 

Summerhill received a PhD in History from Stanford, and an MA and BA from the University of Florida. His research has been supported by the Fulbright-Hays program, the Social Science Research Council, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Science Foundation. He has consulted for the World Bank and the private sector, and was a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Since 2011 he co-edits the Revista de Historia Económica. He has been a visiting research scholar at the Escola de Pós-Graduação em Economia of the Fundação Getúlio Vargas (EPGE-FGV), and visiting professor at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, the Universidade de São Paulo, the Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP), and Stanford University.


Interviewed for Newsday, BBC World Service on federal intervention in Rio de Janeiro (February, 2018); talk on "Origins of Executive Constraints in Brazil" (@49:39) for the Tinker Conference on the Rule of Law in Latin America, at Stanford (December 2017) [mention in Vinicius Mota, "Luta contra corrupção no Brasil é árdua," in Folha de S.Paulo (January, 2018)]; talk on institutions, crony capitalism, and corruption at Centro Mackenzie de Liberdade Econômica covered in Folha de S.Paulo (October, 2017); research on the economic impact of railroads highlighted on the Blog do IBRE of the Fundação Getúlio Vargas (September 2017 ["Papel histórico das ferrovias no Brasil"]); interviewed for Newsday BBC World Service (July 2017) on the corruption conviction of former president Lula in Brazil; interviewed by Rafael Cariello on Renato Perim Colistete and his research on the economic history of education in Brazil, in "Pátria Iletrada," revista piauí (January 2017) (complete text here); by Luís Artur Nogueira for "Os homens da economia," IstoÉ Dinheiro (January 2017); by Márcio Kroehn for "Os presidentes num País em ebulição," IstoÉ Dinheiro (January, 2017); by Andy Uhler for Marketplace (NPR) on Brazil's economic privatization proposals (September 2016); interviewed for Newsday BBC World Service (August 2016); interviewed on BBC International (August 2016); interviewed by Márcio Kroehn in IstoÉ Dinheiro ("O Brasil tem um estado enorme para um país emergente") (February 2016); interviewed by Rafael Cariello on Nathaniel Leff, in "Looking for Leff," revista piauí, (January 2016 and June 2016 edição flip_2016_)(English/Portuguese); interviewed by Jorge Felix in Valor Econômico"Lições da história econômica. Research highlighted in Elio Gaspari's column in the Folha de S.Paulo and O Globo (February 2016); research mentions in the Folha de S.Paulo; (on education here; railroad subsidy and regulation here), and in O Estado de S.Paulo; quoted in the Wall Street Journal; quoted in Folha de S.Paulo, research on impact of 19th-century railroads profiled by Elio Gaspari in Folha de S.Paulo;

Brazil notes

Summerhill, "Brazil's Meltdown," Yale Books Unbound, December 2015

On the gravity of the economic problem that Brazilians face, read Mansueto de Almeida Jr., Marcos de Barros Lisboa, and Samuel de Abreu Pessôa, O Ajuste Inevitável (2015), read this summary, and watch this interview with the authors (in Portuguese; brief summary in English here). On fiscal dominance and the highest interest rate in the world see Gustavo Franco, "Moeda e dominância fiscal" (2015).   For the origins of current crisis, read the Insper working paper by Marcos de Barros Lisboa and Zeina Abdel Latif, Democracy and Growth in Brazil (2013) [Casa das Garças conference version here], and an interview on the role of businesses in creating the crisis ("Empresários também tem culpa"). For a visionary perspective on the difficult reforms that will be required: Marcos de Barros Lisboa and Samuel Pessôa, "As meias-entradas no caminho do ajuste econômico" in Folha de S.Paulo (2016).

Other links

c.v. at Currículo Lattes (CNPq, Brasil); papers at; faculty page at UCLA; Center for Economic History at UCLA