Project: Uses of the Past in International Economic Relations

One of the many exceptional aspects of the global financial crisis of 2008 was the prominence policy-makers and commentators gave to the importance of history in helping to determine responses to the crisis. Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the US Federal Reserve System famously reached for his copy of Friedman and Schwartz's seminal volume on the 1930s depression to seek inspiration (Friedman and Schwartz, 1963). Comparisons with the great depression of the 1930s feature prominently in commentaries on the depth and spread of the global financial crisis and reveal the extent to which policy-makers seek to learn from the past (Calomiris and Haber 2014; Eichengreen 2015). But how relevant is the past as a guide to the present, or even the future, and how is it used when policymakers, bankers and the public are faced with difficult economic challenges? There is a growing literature on how the construction of heritage and nostalgia have been used to serve particular social and political interests (Waterton and Watson, 2015) but most economic historians seek lessons from history rather than examining how the past is constructed and used. Rather than following this path, UPIER will take an original approach by using archival evidence to focus on how and when participants in markets (bankers, policymakers, investors, regulators) actually construct an idea of the past and how they use that construction to guide their reactions to the challenges they face.

Acronym UPIER (Reference Number: HERA.15.025)
Duration 01/06/2016 - 31/05/2019
Project Topic REFLECTIVE-1-2014
Call HERA Call “Uses of the Past”

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 University of Glasgow Coordinator United Kingdom
2 Universite de Geneve Partner Switzerland
3 Uppsala University Partner Sweden
4 Universidad Carlos III Madrid Partner Spain
5 European Association of Banking and Financial History Observer Germany
6 Centrum for Naringslivshistoria Bromma Observer Sweden