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Finance & History

Finance & History

By Carmen Hofmann
The eabh Podcast. Looking for precedents from the exciting world of financial history. We follow money through time and space. We encourage independent research, encourage open debate and value archives. Follow us on:
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The World Bank Group

Finance & History

Monetary Unions
Hugo Bänziger (eabh) and Thomas Mayer (Flossbach von Storch Research Institute) discuss Monetary Unions from the Latin Currency Union to the European Monetary Union of today. Why are monetary unions created? Which are the drivers? If monetary unions are mere devices to obtain political power, what motivates independent countries to join? Do political aspirations always dominate economic reason? Or is the facilitation of international trade the one most important factor to participate in these standard setting unions? Inflationary monetary policies (seignorage) are ancient techniques of financing the state, as much as the migration of paper money towards the North of Europe has historical precedent for a variety of reasons. Now, how do these insights give perspective to what is happening on the stage of international monetary policy? Does Europe today compare to the late Roman Empire? *The topic will further be discussed at the 2022 eabh annual conference in cooperation with the Bulgarian National Bank on 1 July 2022 in Sofia, Bulgaria. We are still open for submissions:
November 2, 2021
The World Bank Group
Carmen Hofmann (eabh) and April Miller (The World Bank Group) talk about archival material from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe and how to inspire history research. April gives fascinating insights into the workings of the World Bank Group, the oldest and largest global multi-regional and multi-sectoral development bank; a Bank that was set up to reconstruct Europe first and bring peace and prosperity to the globe thereafter. The conversation revolves around the vital role of archives in setting up modern societies' public institutions, the concept of accountability through documentary evidence, the necessity of the archives being part of the entire lifecycle of a record, why metadata is everything and how to stay relevant within the orbit of a company's many priorities.
October 27, 2021
Sovereign Debt
Carmen Hofmann (eabh) and Christoph Trebesch (Kiel Institute) talk about Sovereign Debt in the 21st century.  Trebesch argues that we see a continuous trend of debt crises without default, meaning that governments are less willing to default than in the previous centuries and therefore have established wider safety nets of bailouts and rescue lending.  This conversation circles around some of the most crucial questions of the post covid environment: Is there such thing as 'debt without drama' or is the worst yet to come? Can we find precedents in history for how to deal with current rising sovereign debt levels? Which role plays the rising finalisation of the economy, the increased dominance of litigation in finance and the rise of China? And who pays for these debt crises without default if creditors don't? 
September 22, 2021
Helicopter Money
Carmen Hofmann (eabh) and Donato Masciandaro (Bocconi) talk about pandemic recession, central banking and a radical idea that reemerges whenever economic conditions become critical. Can we find a historical precedent for unprecedented monetary policies in 1630 Venice after all?
September 7, 2021
Interest Rates
In this episode we discuss 700 years of interest rates.  Together with Paul Schmelzing (Harvard/Bank of England) we will find out why interest rates are continuously declining since the Middle Ages and why history is the perfect lab to study tail events. What kind of animal are interest rates? What drives long-term rates? And how is this trend a capital accumulation story equally relevant to monetary policy-makers and everyday investors? Listen to the conversation and find out !
September 7, 2021
Bretton Woods
Hugo Bänziger (eabh) and Barry Eichengreen (Berkeley) look to the past and the future of the international monetary system.  15 August, 1971 marked the end of the Bretton Woods system, terminating the convertibility of the US dollar to gold. From this point onwards global exchange rates started to float freely and monetary institutions around the world were looking for new monetary anchors.  In this episode of the eabh Podcast we are asking: What was the Bretton Woods system? Why did it end? How did it go since 1971? And what comes next: Can we draw a comparison from Bretton Woods to Digital Central Bank Currencies (CBDC)? 
August 12, 2021
Who finances the financiers?
Get to know Her Majesty's Treasury: Its 1000 years history, characterised by continuity and evolution; its relationship with the Bank of England and the important role it plays in a world after the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, which lies in the past, yet is present at many institutions' balance sheets. Carmen Hofmann (eabh) in conversation with Mario Pisani (HM Treasury). Mario Pisani's full paper is available at:
August 5, 2021
BNP Paribas
Carmen Hofmann (eabh) in conversation with Marie Laperdrix (Head of Archives and History at BNP Paribas). In this episode we discover the apparent and the hidden treasures of one of Europe's most significant financial archives. The BNP company archive, Marie claims, holds invaluable information about our societies and contributes to the transparency of our democracies. The content of their collection ranges far beyond the 'usual' documentation of daily banking transactions, covering not only the history of the bank and the social history of France, but global history and the trajectory of entire nations, like for example Mexico, Morocco, or Norway.  We will further talk about the opportunities 2020/21 held for the archival professionals, our shared enthusiasm for open content formats and the importance of Marie Kondo inside and outside of the archive. 
June 9, 2021
Where is financial history going?
Hugo Bänziger (eabh) and Harold James (Princeton) take a real long view on the field of financial history. Can we see an anticipation of what is happening now by looking much further to the past? Will we return through technology to an old form of finance where risk was much wider distributed than it is through today's banking system?
May 19, 2021
Fire in London
Carmen Hofmann, Secretary General of eabh, in conversation with Nathan Sussman, Graduate Institute Geneva. In this episode of the eabh podcast we talk about the Great Fire of London, the rebuilding of the City afterwards, the role of the Corporation of London and in more general terms financial innovations, revolutions and development.  Sources as mentioned in recording: Nathan Sussman: 'Financial Developments in London in the 17th Century: The Financial Revolution Revisited' D'Maris Coffmann, Judy Stephenson and Nathan Sussman: 'Financing the Rebuilding of the City of London after the Great Fire of 1666'
April 9, 2021
Carmen Hofmann, Secretary General of eabh, in conversation with Andrea Papadia, University of Bonn. In this episode of the eabh podcast we  talk about the slave business, its connections with the financial industry and the case of Brazil. Sources as mentioned in recording:  González, Marshall, Nadir (2017). 'Start up Nation?' Slave Wealth and Entrepreneurship in Civl War Maryland'. Naidu (2020). 'American Slavery and Labour Market Power'. Legacies of British Slave Ownership Database Olmstead, Rhode (2017). 'Cotton, Slavery and the New History of Capitalism'. Palma, Papadia, Pereira and Weller (2021). 'Slavery and Development in 19th Century Brazil'.
March 30, 2021
Risk Management
Hugo Bänziger, former Chief Risk Officer at Deutsche Bank and Chairman of eabh in conversation with Torsten Wegner, a leader of Risk Dynamics at Mc Kinsey.  In this episode, our experts will talk about the development of financial risk management since Bretton Woods, its failures during the Great Financial Crises, how the industry has taken on the complexities of risk since 2008; and what finance could learn from the Apollo Space Mission to the moon...
March 11, 2021
Debts & Dictators
Carmen Hofmann, Secretary General of eabh in conversation with Tobias Straumann, University of Zürich. In this episode of Finance & History we are talking about financial crises, sovereign debt, the complexity of international frameworks and the rise of Hitler.  Straumann (2019). '1931: Debt, Crisis, and the Rise of Hitler'
March 8, 2021