Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Some meta commentary

As I explained in my first post the primary function of this blog is to comment on the use of historical evidence in today's debates about fiscal and economic matters. This part is going well, I think. At least I am enjoying the writing and from the statistics that google shows me every time I open this blog, I can tell that at least some people are reading me. Well over 800 page views so far. That's great. Thanks a lot. By the power of google I can also see where readers are from: the US, Italy, Germany and Australia are top of the list.

But when I included this blog as a 'publication output' into my fellowship application with the Leverhulme Trust I also promised that I would talk about the progress of my research from time to time. I have not done much in that direction and should start today.

Put simply, the main question that I am trying to answer is 'Why are we so bad at learning from history in economic and financial matters?' More specifically, there is a good argument, made by Reinhart and Rogoff, that historically financial crises have developed according to very similar patterns. If true, this begs the question of why we are still so bad at handling them. Not that there has been no progress. Central banks were much more effective in the early stages of the current crisis than in the 1930s. But clearly there is still room for improvement. So, I am looking at how historical evidence has been used in public debates about fiscal crises in the last 250 years. I am mainly interested in what determines continuity and discontinuity in economic thought and what the main obstacles and catalysts of learning from the past are.

More details about the manuscript that I am working on will follow soon.  Now I have to ... ahem ... work on the manuscript.

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