Financialization–History, Economics, Politics

The widely held belief that financial deepening benefits the economy by efficiently allocating capital and diversifying risk was shaken to its core by the breadth and scope of the 2008/09 financial crisis. This research project combines 140 years of economic history with state-of-the-art econometric methods to gain new insights into the relationship between finance, growth and crises.

Housing Markets in History

For economists there is no price like home—at least not since the global financial crisis. Fluctuations in house prices and their importance for the macroeconomy have become a rapidly expanding research field. The economic history of advanced economies is spattered with narratives about booms and busts in real estate prices. Yet we know surprisingly little about long-run trends and cycles in house prices. This research project aims to fill this void.

Long-term Economic Persistence

Simply put, economic persistence examines the historical factors that affect economic performance today. As such, it combines insights from economic development, history and growth. Ultimately, it is a quest for the deep-rooted geographic, institutional, educational, genetic and cultural determinants of comparative economic development. This research project will emphasize the long-lasting legacy of colonialism with a special focus on Latin America.

Size of Finance

In the years prior to the recent financial crisis, wages and value added of the financial sector skyrocketed relative to the rest of the economy. This research project aims to provide new insights into the growth and change of the financial sector and to advance our understanding of common trends and differences across countries in its historical evolution. As a central part of the project, we construct a dataset to measure the contribution of the financial sector to GDP in advanced economies since 1870.


This paper introduces a new long-run dataset based on archival data from historical waves of the Survey of Consumer Finances. The household-level data allow us to study the joint distributions of household income and wealth since 1949. We expose the central importance of portfolio composition and asset prices for wealth dynamics in postwar America. Asset […]

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The Rate of Return on Everything, 1870–2015

with Óscar Jordá, Katharina Knoll, Dmitry Kuvshinov and Alan M. Taylor. This paper answers fundamental questions that have preoccupied modern economic thought since the 18th century. What is the aggregate real rate of return in the economy? Is it higher than the growth rate of the economy and, if so, by how much? Is there […]

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with Benjamin Born, Gernot Müller, Moritz Schularick and Petr Sedlacek. This paper introduces a data-driven, transparent and unbiased method to calculate the economic costs of the Brexit vote in June 2016. We let a matching algorithm determine a combination of comparison economies that best resembles the growth path of the UK economy before the Brexit […]

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with Moritz Kuhn and Ulrike Steins. This paper studies the distribution of U.S. household income and wealth over the past seven decades. We introduce a newly compiled household-level dataset based on archival data from historical waves of the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF). Complementing recent work on top income and wealth shares, the long-run survey […]

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with Òscar Jordà, Björn Richter and Alan M. Taylor. Higher capital ratios are unlikely to prevent a financial crisis. This is empirically true both for the entire history of advanced economies between 1870 and 2013 and for the post-WW2 period, and holds both within and between countries. We reach this startling conclusion using newly collected […]

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The effects of quasi-random monetary experiments

with Òscar Jordà and Alan M. Taylor. The trilemma of international finance entails that fluctuations in interest rates—for countries with fixed exchange rates that allow unfettered cross-border capital flows—are mostly due to international arbitrage. Consequently, we can locate a valid source of exogenous variation to identify monetary policy effects with instrumental variable methods. Paired with […]

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