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HISTORY 234R: Risk and Credit Before Modern Finance (HISTORY 334R)

In today's world, credit scores are nearly as important as citizenship. Creditworthiness is measured in numbers, but is also bound up with moral qualities. To lack credit is to be on the margins of society, and vice versa. How did we get here? How did lenders mitigate risks before credit scores were available? Where do the risk management tools of modern finance come from? How did merchants trade over long distances when information technology was extremely poor? This one-unit course will address these pressing questions from a historical perspective, starting from the modern U.S. and reaching back in time to the Middle Ages. Classroom discussions and readings include articles written by historians and social scientists, as well as primary sources in English translation.
Last offered: Spring 2020
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