ECON 463
Financial History Spring 2021
Division II
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

What can we learn from financial history to understand the successes and failures of finance today and in coming years? This course opens with a brief survey of some of the major characteristics, issues, and challenges of financial systems today, and then examines earlier experience with these phenomena. Topics to be examined include: the role of credit and more generally finance in economic development historically, including in the financial revolutions from Northern Italy, the Netherlands, Britain and the US; the evolution of money, from stones or cigarettes to Bitcoin; the relationship between finance and government, and the extent to which it has changed over time; lessons from early asset bubbles and more recent crises (including that of 2008-09) for modern financial systems; the effect of institutions (laws, norms, and culture) and political systems in shaping the impact of finance, as illustrated by comparisons between Mexico and the U.S., among other cases; and lessons from U.S. financial history for policies today. The course also examines the tools that were developed in earlier eras to deal with different risks, evaluates their efficacy, and considers lessons for modern financial regulation, including how financial systems can be prepared, if possible, for the risks that are already unfolding — such as technology changes and climate risk.
The Class: Format: seminar; As of October 2020, the spring 2021 class will be remote. While many sessions will include the entire class, if we are at the cap (15 students), for some topics I will break the class up into smaller groups. For those in town, when the weather warms up, I hope to include distanced meetings outside, doing separate meetings for any students who are remote only. Liberal use of discussion boards will be made.
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 5066
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Either 6 short papers or 3 short papers and one longer research paper (student choice), at least two oral presentations, and contributions to class discussions.
Prerequisites: ECON 251, ECON 252, and ECON 255 (or STAT 346 or Poli Ec 253) are required.
Enrollment Preferences: Senior Economics majors
Distributions: Division II

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