Financial Markets and the Global Economy: the History of Bubbles, Crashes and Inflations

  • Summer schools
  • Department of Economic History
  • Application code SS-EC204
  • Starting 2021
  • Short course: Open
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

Have financial crises become more frequent and more severe over time? What can early bubbles tell us about the state of different stock markets? Was fiscal policy as important as monetary policy in helping recovery in Britain and the US after the Great Depression? Exploring these topics informs our understanding of current global financial markets. During this course, you will be asked to engage with these important topics and more, participating in lively discussion between your peers and faculty.

Covering the two waves of financial globalisation (1880-1914 and 1980-2008), as well as the de-globalisation of finance after the Great Depression, this course unpacks some of the most significant questions in Economic History. As a result, you will be introduced to the long run evolution of financial markets and to the history of monetary policy and financial crises.

Looking through the lens of history, this course will develop your critical thinking and analysis skills. By engaging with the material, you will take away a strong understanding of how institutional and political factors shape the process of financial globalisation and of how the structure of the international monetary system affects the conduct of monetary policy and the response to financial crises.

Session: One - Applications closed
Dates: 21 June – 9 July 2021



Programme details

Key facts

Level: 200 level. Read more information on levels in our FAQs

Fees:  Please see Fees and payments

Lectures: 36 hours 

Classes: 18 hours

Assessment*: One piece of written work and one written examination

Typical credit*: 3-4 credits (US) 7.5 ECTS points (EU)

*Assessment is optional but may be required for credit by your home institution. Your home institution will be able to advise how you can meet their credit requirements.

For more information on exams and credit, read Teaching and assessment


Introductory macroeconomics (to the equivalent of EC102) and microeconomics (to the equivalent of EC101). A working knowledge of basic mathematics and statistics would also be helpful.

Key topics

  • Stock market integration and stock market crashes before 1800
  • The gold standard and financial globalisation before WWII
  • WWI financial instability, hyperinflation and the reconstruction of the gold standard
  • The 1929 stock market crash and 1931 global financial crisis
  • Monetary policy and the Great Depression of the 1930s
  • Banking panics in the United States during the 1930s
  • Financial crises in Latin America between 1980-2001
  • The East Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998
  • The 2008 subprime crisis in historical perspective
  • The 2008-2012 Eurozone crisis in historical perspective

Programme structure and assessment

This course is delivered through a combination of lectures, class discussions and readings. Students will be expected to engage with several academic texts relating to a given topic in order to participate in the lively discussions held in class.

The course is assessed through a 1,500 word essay (50%) and an end-of-course written examination (50%). During the course you will be asked to submit an essay plan to help you prepare for the final essay. This plan will not contribute towards your final grade.

Further details will be provided at the beginning of the course.

Course outcomes

  • Understand the evolution of financial markets and the history of monetary policy and financial crises
  • Analyse how central banks responded to financial crises in different historical periods
  • Compare the impact of different fiscal and monetary policies on economic outcomes across the globe

Is this course right for you?

This course is suitable if you want to gain a nuanced understanding of money and financial markets through a historical approach. It is also highly relevant to financial market practitioners and policy makers interested in acquiring a long run perspective on current hot issues in money, banking and finance. If you are pursuing a career in policy development, research and government you should consider taking this course.

Your department

LSE’s Department of Economic History has a distinguished tradition of research and teaching that applies concepts and theories from the social sciences for studying the development of real economies, and understanding them in their social, political and cultural contexts. As one of the largest specialist economic history departments in the world, the Department attracts leading thinkers in the field of economic, business and social history from the UK and around the world.

Students will grapple with some of the most complex economic and social challenges through a historical lens, applying LSE’s unique social science approach to understanding these challenges. Engaging with world-renowned faculty, students will develop the critical-thinking and research skills that will equip them for careers in a diverse range of sectors, including government, corporate, non-profit and public sectors.

Your faculty


Professor Albrecht Ritschl
Professor of Economic History, Department of Economic History

Reading materials

Eichengreen, B. (2008), Globalizing Capital: A History of the International Monetary System, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Kindleberger, C. P. (2005), Manias, Panics and Crashes. A History of Financial Crises, 5th edition, New York: Macmillan.

Neal, L. (2015), A Concise History of international Finance: from Babylon to Bernanke, Cambridge: CUP.

Reinhart, C; Rogoff, K. (2009), This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

*A more detailed reading list will be supplied prior to the start of the programme

**Course content, faculty and dates may be subject to change without prior notice

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How to Apply

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