Last week a caller asked me an odd question about government policy forcing us into a cashless economy. Here are my thoughts, without the conspiracy angle.
A little discussion of shutdowns with a local example thrown in to show that things do get better.
From time to time the calls on the radio turn to questions about the possibilities of market corrections and the likelihood of recession, panic, depression and so on. For the most part these calls died down since 2014 or so, which may just mean they are getting ready to start up again. The number of pages devoted to the examination of economic crises, financial market and otherwise, is long and there are some good and many bad and I try to steer callers to the better ones as much as I can. To that end, Brian Dowd at FocusEconomics wrote up a really nice history of the Tulip Crisis, one of the first financial panic/crisis events we really understand as a bubble. You can find his full post here.
After the boom comes the bust, or so we are told. One of the more interesting questions for North Dakota is the extent of the pain, if any, felt during the bust, and how it ends up distributed across the state. To help answer this question we need to continue analysis of the circumstances of growth in North Dakota during this century. Call it a Nearby Economic History. A better understanding of the process of economic growth in the state is 1) important in its own right (knowledge for its own sake is seldom bad), and 2) potentially useful information as the state discusses policies going forward.
Trained as an economic historian one would obviously think I would endorse a strong role for economic history. Well, I do. However, Simon Ville made a similar argument in a fantastic essay at the World Economic Forum Forum blog (link). I frequently tell people that economic history is context, the background to the economic processes covered in the theory classes. In general, economic history provides perspective. When situations break down, whether due to political institutions, preference changes, or other major events, economic history, or at least economists with an appreciation for history, tend to understand the unfolding of events better. If the recent crisis breathes further life into economic history I think it would be a boon for economic as a whole.