• Manchester to Liverpool Railway Painting | Martin Daunton | Cambridge

Martin Daunton is an author, historian and lecturer.  His interests include the economic history of Britain since 1700, the shifting boundaries between the market and state, the politics of public finance, the relations between national and international economic policies, and debates over intergenerational equity.  He has published and lectured widely on these areas, and is particularly concerned to engage with policy makers and practioners with an interest in the historical background to current issues.

Audio and Video Recordings

9 April 2024

In the Great Depression, producers of food and raw materials complained that they received low prices and paid high prices for industrial imports. Latin America adopted ‘import substituting industrialisation’ to encourage production behind tariff barriers. This approach continued after the war as more countries gained independence. Did this policy result in inefficient industries and state regulation without delivering improved welfare? By the 1980s, the policy was in retreat with a turn to market liberalisation and export-led growth.

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6 March 2024

Kimberly Weir, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Northern Kentucky University talks with Martin Daunton, Professor Emeritus of Economic History at the University of Cambridge.

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6 February 2024

Why have economies in east Asia been more successful in escaping from under-development and achieving high levels of growth? Japan’s experience of avoiding colonisation and creating a modern economy offered a model to other countries, some of whom had themselves been colonised by Japan – above all, South Korea. How did Japan and Korea create a successful model of export-led growth with a close connection between the state and business that was criticised by the IMF as ‘crony capitalism’?

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31 October 2023

Different models of economic modernity competed during the Cold War. Washington feared that the transition from colonial peasant societies would provide an opening for Marxists, as in Vietnam. But by 1989, the Soviet economic model was in crisis and attempts to create a market economy led to Putin’s kleptocracy. In China, the disaster of Mao’s Great Leap Forward was followed by successful transformation.

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26 October 2023

In his latest book, which forms the basis of this lecture, Martin Daunton pulls back the curtain on the institutions and individuals who have created and managed the economy over the last ninety years, revealing how and why one economic order breaks down and another is built.

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16 April 2023

Who benefited from the British Empire? In the metropole, did it benefit wealthy landed aristocrats and financiers of the City of London, or did the Empire create employment and cheap goods for British workers? What was the impact on different parts of the empire, and different social groups, as they were drawn into a global economy?

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Slavery and the British Economy

7 February 2023

During debates over the abolition of slavery, supporters of the system claimed that it was vital to the British economy and that abolition would be disastrous. The abolitionists argued that slavery was immoral and that the economy would prosper in its absence. Just how important was slavery to British economic success? This question continues to resonate in modern debates over the historic role of slavery’s profits in the building of country estates or the endowments of charities.

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Why Did Europe’s Economies Diverge from Asia?

18 November 2022

The levels of income in parts of China and India were similar to those in Europe in the middle ages, until the Mediterranean pulled ahead – followed by northern Europe, initially Holland and then Britain. This ‘great divergence’ was one of the fundamental shifts in history – and is only now being reversed.

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The Global Financial Crisis and COVID… What Next?

5 May 2022

‘Hyper-globalisation’ and the power of finance culminated in the global financial crisis of 2008 that was potentially as severe as the Great Depression. The outcome was not public spending but austerity that hit the poor and Quantitative Easing that benefited the assets of the rich. The result was inequality and precarity, with barely any improvement in the standard of living for most by the time Covid hit. What signs are there of a much-needed transformation in attitudes to the economy?

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Gresham College | The Oil Shock and Neoliberalism | Martin Daunton | Cambridge

The Oil Shock and Neoliberalism

18 February 2022

The oil shocks of 1973 and 1979 led to international disruption and a crisis in the post-war order. Domestically, weaker productivity growth, the squeeze on profits, and de-industrialisation led to conflict between capital and labour.

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Gresham College | The Great Depression and Embedded Liberalism | Martin Daunton | Cambridge

The Great Depression and ‘Embedded Liberalism’

16 November 2021

The Great Depression posed a serious threat to democratic capitalism as economic nationalism flourished and Communism and Fascism offered alternative models. In response, democratic capitalism was remade.

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Gresham College | Intergenerational Justice and Climate Change Lecture | Martin Daunton | Cambridge

Intergenerational Justice and Climate Change

19 April 2021

Climate change and the over-exploitation of resources now may mean that unless the current generation modifies its behaviour, generations ahead may either not be born or will inherit a world with severe problems. A village or even a nation state can develop rules to prevent depletion of resources so that it does not cut down forests or over-fish the oceans. But how can that be done globally when the action of one country can have a harmful effect on another?

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Should We Inherit?

16 February 2021

Transfer of resources between currently existing generations. There is a clear link with the previous time scale, for a collective solution will mean that the cost of those currently drawing benefits is paid by those currently in employment. But there are further ramifications. Should the assets of the older generation pass to the younger generation or not?


What Do We Own Society? Reflections on COVID-19

10 November 2020

How has Covid-19 re-shaped our ideas about what we owe society? The lockdown has had a terrible impact on the economic prospects of young people – and the elderly have suffered from high mortality in care homes. Choices have to be made between the generations. Should people save and pay for their own pensions, care in ill-health and old age as an individual responsibility? Or is it a societal duty that should be funded by compulsory payment of taxes?


Podcast: Economic historian Martin Daunton on the threat to world peace

2 March 2020

Is the increasing tension between nationalism and globalisation pushing the world toward war? That’s the question Professor Martin Daunton addressed while delivering the annual Charles Goode Oration at Melbourne Business School in late 2019.


From Bretton Woods to Financial Crisis: The Rise And Fall of Economic Governance

2 May 2019

The Griffin Economic History Summit Public Lecture, From Bretton Woods to Financial Crisis: The Rise and Fall of Global Economic Governance, will be presented by Martin Daunton, Professor Emeritus of Economic History at the University of Cambridge.


Cumberland Lodge Video Link | Martin Daunton | Cambridge

Contested Histories and Multiple Identities: The Place of the Past in the Present – Public lecture

6 March 2019

A recording of the public lecture that closed our ‘Difficult Histories & Positive Identities’ conference in February 2019, by Professor Martin Daunton

Martin Daunton Video Link | Martin Daunton | Cambridge

One World or Two Worlds? Defining Britain’s place in the world economy after Bretton Woods

The University of Manchester

28 March 2019

A seminar with Martin Daunton of the University of Cambridge.

Martin Daunton Video Link | Martin Daunton | Cambridge

Tawney Lecture 2015: Contesting Reconstruction: Remaking the Global Economic Order

13 May 2015

In this year’s Tawney lecture, Martin Daunton considers the conflicting and contested notions of the reconstruction of the world economy after the Second World War.


The following books are currently in print.  Details are availble by clicking on the jacket image.

© Copyright - Martin Daunton