My research interests span economic history, monetary economics, political economy, and macroeconomics, with my research agenda principally motivated by two questions. First, I am interested in how interactions of financial markets with law, politics, and physical environment have historically shaped not only the pace of economic development and innovation, but also the direction. Second, given the inconstancy of financial crises across time and space, I am interested in how financial markets have alternately amplified or attenuated the transmission of shocks to the real economy. My current work thus focuses especially on the development of the British and North American economies, with a particular interest in the political economy of financial regulation and shareholder liability.
In addition to my first book, Rethinking the Keynesian Revolution, published by Oxford University Press in 2012, I have two books published in 2016 and 2017 by Harvard University Press and Palgrave Macmillan, titled Legislating Instability: Adam Smith, Free Banking, and the Financial Crisis of 1772 and Famine and Finance: Credit and the Great Famine of Ireland. The former looks at the political economy of financial regulation in eighteenth-century Scotland, from both a micro and global macro perspective, while in the latter I analyze the market for small loans during the Great Famine of Ireland, and discuss implications for contemporary microfinance initiatives.
I also have two ongoing projects in American economic history exploiting county-level policy and institutional discontinuities. In the first of these, “Skin in the Game: Liability Insurance, Contingent Capital, and Financial Stability,” I use spatial discontinuities in antebellum U.S. bank regulation to analyze the effects of public liability insurance, extended liability, and branch banking laws on banking sector stability. In the second, “Slavery, Path Dependence, and Development: Evidence from the Georgia Experiment,” I exploit spatial discontinuity in the legality of slavery in colonial Georgia in order to analyze the effects of that institution on long-run economic development and to explore potential channels of institutional persistence.