Economic History

US economic history starts with the 13 colonies and the transition from communal to individual land ownership, continues with 19th century economic growth and takes us to the role of services during the 20th century. Involving government, consumers and businesses, at econlife, economic history provides more understanding of today’s economy.

A One-Handed Economist?

Let’s not look at CDOs, SIVs, ARMs, TIPs or ATMs. Nor do we need specifically to consider credit default swaps, securitization, hedge funds or venture capital. Instead, we can go to the question that Robert Litan asks at the end…

New Financial Products

Instead of a garage or a laboratory, think of an office or a conference room. And, rather than a computer or an aircast, imagine a junk bond or a bank account.  All of these products, at one time were invented.…

Legislative Jeopardy

Between 1932 and 1934, the Senate’s Pecora Commission, named after its general counsel, amassed 12,000 pages of testimony.  Its focus was the impact of stock exchange practices on banking, securities, and commerce.  Subsequent major financial legislation was based on the work of…

Roads to Prosperity

In Part 1 of the Teaching Company course, “America and the New Global Economy,” Professor Timothy Taylor discusses the origination of the euro. Four goals he says were sought: free movement of people, goods, services, and capital.  Central especially to…

Icemen and Pinsetters

In a wonderful story, NPR looked at “The Jobs of Yesteryear.”  Among those they discussed were pinsetters, elevator operators, icemen, and lamplighters. For each one, while technology made the occupation obsolete, the economy benefited with a higher GDP and a better standard of living. More specifically……

A Real Seat

In 2005 you could have paid $4 million (an all time high) for a seat on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) but you would have had almost nothing on which to sit.  Looking down from the balconies overlooking the huge trading floor of…

The Top 19

Are 19 banks “too big to fail?” Listening to Bloomberg radio, I heard that four banking firms control close to 50 percent of their industry’s assets, that the top 19 control 85 percent, and that the bottom 8000 control 15 per cent.  An…

Liking the Robber Barons

A confession:  I have never disliked the “robber barons.”   Written by Matthew Josephson (1899-1978), The Robber Barons told us how the great nineteenth industrial empires were built.  Emphasizing the misdeeds of Rockefeller, Carnegie, Frick, and their contemporaries, the author helped…

Big and Little Worries

1.  Sovereign debt: Contemplating big worries, I could place sovereign debt at the top of the the list. Should we currently be concerned about Greece, Spain and other EU nations with excessive obligations?  Beyond, should we be focusing on the…

Default Records

Seeing current concerns about the money owed by Greece, I wondered about her past record.  Until 1932, it was not good.  The first report of Greece defaulting on her debt was during the fourth century B.C.  At the time, ten…