The coal industry has always occupied a symbolic place in British economic and political life, inspiring debates and arousing passions throughout the last two centuries. This account of the economics of coal, first published in 1990, is unique in its comprehensive three-part approach. First, Ben Fine charts the ways in which the theoretical understanding of the British coal industry has changed over the past two centuries and discusses the arguments surrounding public ownership versus the privatization of the industry. In the second part, the book presents a critical assessment of the existing literature and challenges the well-established orthodoxies by close theoretical and empirical argument. Finally, attention is paid to the role of landed property and the processes of technical change.
An interesting analysis of the complex relationship between industrial change and political economy and an important contribution to economics, this study will be of great value to students of the theory and history of industrial change and the British coal industry.
Acknowledgements; Introduction; Part One: Monopoly and Coal 1. Monopoly, capitalism and the coal vend 2. Cartels and rationalization in the 1930s; Part Two: Coal royalties 3. Royalty or rent: what’s in a name? 4. Royalties: from private obstacle to public burden?; Part Three: Cliometrics and coal 5. Returning to factor returns: the late nineteenth century coal industry 6. Returns to scale in the interwar coal industry 7. The diffusion of mechanical coal cutting Part Four: Towards privatization? 8. The commanding heights of public corporation economics 9. Privatization and property rights: from electricity to coal 10. Coal: the ultimate privatization; Notes; Reference; Index.
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