NBER Working Papers by Yaguang Zhang

Contact and additional information for this authorAll NBER papers and publicationsNBER Working Papers only

Working Papers

October 2015Economic Cycles in Ancient China
with Guo Fan, John Whalley: w21672
We discuss business cycles in ancient China. Data on Ancient China business cycles are sparse and incomplete and so our discussion is qualitative rather than quantitative. Essentially, ancient debates focused on two types of cycles: long run political or dynastic cycles of many decades, and short run nature induced cycles. Discussion of the latter show strong parallels to Jevons’ conception of sun spot cycles. The former has no clear contemporary analogue, were often deep in impact and of long duration. The discussion of both focused on agricultural economies. Ancient discussion on intervention focused on counter cyclical measures, including stockpiling, and predated Keynes and the discussion in the 1930s by centuries. Also, a strongly held belief emerged that cycles create their own cycle...
June 2010Monetary Theory from a Chinese Historical Perspective
with Zheng Xueyi, John Whalley: w16092
We discuss monetary thought in ancient China from the perspective of Western monetary theory. It sets out the structure of economic activity in the various dynasties of ancient China and emphasizes the differences in monetary structure from Europe (and later North America). Imperial China was a politically integrated structure with regional segmentation of economic activities and hence with regional money. Monetary policy was one body conducted at regional level, but overseen naturally politically before national integration under the Ming dynasty (14th century). In various regions different forms of money circulated, with gold, silver, copper, and paper all present at various times. Monetary policy was guided by monetary thought, such as later in Europe. Basic concepts such as monetary fu...

Published: “Monetary Theory from a Chinese Historical Pers pective” (with Zheng Xueyi and Zhang Yaguang). China Economic Review , 26, September 2013, pp. 89-104.

Contact and additional information for this authorAll NBER papers and publicationsNBER Working Papers only

NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us