The past 150 years have witnessed over a dozen financial crises with direct links to wars, poverty, rise of nationalism and the expanding and contracting rate of global trade. The latest financial crisis in 2008 was a watershed moment in American history as the country experienced its deepest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. This course will show students how to spot and understand the trends that lead to these crises and how to look for the signals that precede each crisis, ultimately helping students better navigate their own future professional and personal lives.

This course will show how 2008 was not an isolated event, but one with deep socio-economic roots in the recent history of the United States. This course will help correlate the financial crisis of 2008 with its predecessors, placing it in a proper historical context. We will study how financial crises fit into a pattern of serving as mechanisms of shock to social structure that lead to movements, wars and massive change. We will also study how technological revolutions can serve as pre-cursors to and triggers for financial shocks.

The course will begin by examining the history of financial crises since the mid-1800s, and highlighting the corresponding events that came before and after each crisis. We will then move to a deep examination of the financial crisis of 2008, by looking at the international, social and economic environment in the United States and around the world that led to the crisis. We will examine the response by various governments and societies to the financial crisis, and how each country’s response impacted its socio-economic development over the past decade.