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.