The (Very) Early History of Financial Economics

12 August 2010 at 11:45 am 1 comment

| Peter Klein |

The latest issue of the History of Economics Review contains Geoffrey Poitras and Jovanovic’s interesting paper, “Pioneers of Financial Economics: Das Adam Smith Irrelevanzproblem?” (published version not available online; working-paper version here, presentation slides here). Despite the subtitle the paper isn’t about Adam Smith, but the (very) early history of financial economics. Here’s an excerpt:

In the case of financial economics, the roots of this field stretch back to antiquity, involving the valuation of financial transactions, such as determining payment on a loan or distributing profits from a partnership. Poitras (2000) uses the late fifteenth century as a starting point for the early or pre-classical history of financial economics, more than three centuries prior to the publication of the [Wealth of Nations]. As early as Fibonacci (1170?-1250?), elements of financial economics were being disseminated among the merchant classes in the commercial arithmetics that, by the fifteenth century, formed the core of the reckoning school curriculum, e.g., Swetz (1987). A fundamental historical demarcation point appears with Christian Huygens’s (1629-1695) seminal introduction of the modern theory of expectations.

From this point, until the appearance of the WN, the founding work of classical political economy, financial economics underwent a dramatic transformation. By the time the Theory of Moral Sentiments appeared, sophisticated methods for pricing contingent claims, such as the life annuities sold by various individuals, municipalities and national governments in western Europe, had been developed and were being applied to the establishment of actuarially sound life insurance plans and pension funds. Hald (1990), Poitras (2006), Lewin (2003) and Rubinstein (2003) among others identify the earliest pioneers of modern financial economics, the beginning of classical financial economics, from the contributors that developed these pricing methods. As such, there is a close connection between the classical histories of financial economics, statistics, and actuarial science.

In other words, this is a field in which theory and practice appear to have co-evolved quite closely, which raises interesting questions for the performativity crowd. Modern financial economics is in many ways similar: theories of market efficiency were both shaped by, and helped to shape (e.g., through options-pricing formulas) actual market behavior.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Business/Economic History, Financial Markets, Methods/Methodology/Theory of Science. Tags: .

Academy of Management Conference Open Thread The Unbearable Hotness of Being

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Recomendaciones « intelib  |  13 August 2010 at 4:43 am

    [...] The (Very) Early History of Financial Economics, by Peter Klein [...]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Authors

Nicolai J. Foss | home | posts
Peter G. Klein | home | posts
Richard Langlois | home | posts
Lasse B. Lien | home | posts

Guests

Former Guests | posts

Networking

Recent Posts

Categories

Feeds

Our Recent Books

Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein, Organizing Entrepreneurial Judgment: A New Approach to the Firm (Cambridge University Press, 2012).
Peter G. Klein and Micheal E. Sykuta, eds., The Elgar Companion to Transaction Cost Economics (Edward Elgar, 2010).
Peter G. Klein, The Capitalist and the Entrepreneur: Essays on Organizations and Markets (Mises Institute, 2010).
Richard N. Langlois, The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism: Schumpeter, Chandler, and the New Economy (Routledge, 2007).
Nicolai J. Foss, Strategy, Economic Organization, and the Knowledge Economy: The Coordination of Firms and Resources (Oxford University Press, 2005).
Raghu Garud, Arun Kumaraswamy, and Richard N. Langlois, eds., Managing in the Modular Age: Architectures, Networks and Organizations (Blackwell, 2003).
Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein, eds., Entrepreneurship and the Firm: Austrian Perspectives on Economic Organization (Elgar, 2002).
Nicolai J. Foss and Volker Mahnke, eds., Competence, Governance, and Entrepreneurship: Advances in Economic Strategy Research (Oxford, 2000).
Nicolai J. Foss and Paul L. Robertson, eds., Resources, Technology, and Strategy: Explorations in the Resource-based Perspective (Routledge, 2000).

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 269 other followers