Research project

MERCATOR - The Memory of Financial Crises: Financial Actors and Global Risk

This project explores the extent to which the memory of previous financial crises can explain practices threatening the stability of the financial system. In this vast oral history project, we interview the leading financial actors both at the time of the subprime crisis (2007) and 15 years later.

This project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC)

This project has received funding from the European Commission Horizon 2020 programme under the Grant Agreement no. 884910

The research will explore the extent to which the memory of previous financial crises can explain practices threatening the stability of the financial system. Surprisingly, two questions to better understand the behaviour of financial agents, marked by recurrent waves of over-confidence and excessive risk-taking, have never been asked. Do financial actors have any knowledge, memory and understanding of previous financial crises? More generally, how far are they aware of the inherent instability of the financial system? By combining financial history and memory studies for the first time in a single study, Professor Youssef Cassis embarks on a quest to answer these questions. So far, economic historians have paid no attention to memory, while cultural historians have shown no interest in financial crises. The memory of financial crises will be analysed in a number of ways, in particular through a vast oral history programme. Cassis and his team will interview the leading financial actors both at the time of the outbreak of the subprime crisis (2007) and some fifteen years later. They will also sift through the press coverage of the most severe financial shocks of the twentieth century. The researchers will focus in particular on the financial press, as well as policy reports and analyses, of the Great Depression of the 1930s, the International Debt Crisis of 1982, the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, and the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. The research project will also pay attention to the emphasis given to financial crises in the teaching of economics and finance since the Second World War; and the use of memory for political purposes.

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