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History of Money and Monetary Policy

Course Number:



Undergraduate Economics


B.A. in Economics, B.S. in Economics, B.S. in Economics and Statistics, B.S. in Economics and Mathematical Sciences, Additional Major in Economics, Additional Major in Economics and Statistics, Minor in Economics

Course Description

This course will consider the evolution of monetary institutions and policies from 550 BC to the present, providing an understanding of the role of monetary policy through a critical evaluation of the mistakes and successes of the past.   Specific topics will include: Greek, Roman, and Medieval coinage; metallic systems including strengths and weaknesses of the gold standard and bimetallism; American colonial experiences; French episodes including the ‘system’ of John Law and the Assignats of the French Revolution; critical British episodes including the Great Debasement and the Restriction of 1797-1821; and the following topics in United States history: the Constitution, early problems, Greenbacks of the Civil War, legal tender cases, the “Crime of 1873,” founding of the Federal Reserve, Great Depression, Bretton Woods, the Great Inflation, the Volcker disinflation, and the financial crisis of 2008-10. The course will include a bit of general history and history of economic thought, with just enough economic theory to provide analytical coherence. Minimum grade standard of "C" applies only to economics courses.


Lecture: 160min/wk