ECON 463
Financial History Fall 2023
Division II Writing Skills
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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 digital currencies; 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 those posed by technology change, electronic currencies, and climate risk.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 1807
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 Writing Skills
WS Notes: Students will either write 6 shorter papers (5-8 pages) or 3 short and one longer research paper. Writing skills and clarity of exposition will be emphasized.

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