Friday, May 26, 2017

Loan Sharks

The Exchange, the blog of the Business History Conference, posted a list of new books of interest, and I noticed Loan Sharks: The Birth of Predatory Lending by Charles Geisst, published by the Brookings Institution. I hadn’t heard about the book before, but I was curious since there has been a lot of interesting work on loan sharks in the last decade or so. I was particularly interested to see if he cited my work with Mary Eschelbach Hansen ("The evolution of garnishment and wage assignment law in Illinois." Essays in Economic & Business History 32 (2014): 19-46). I looked Geisst’s book up on Google books and did a quick search. Our paper did not show up in the search.

I assumed he must cite Anne Fleming ("The borrower's tale: a history of poor debtors in Lochner Era New York City." Law and History Review 30, no. 04 (2012): 1053-1098 or "City of Debtors: Law, Loan Sharks, and the Shadow Economy of Urban Poverty, 1900–1970." Enterprise & Society 17, no. 4 (2016): 734-740.)  But she did not show up in the search either.

Michael Easterly ("Your Job is Your Credit: Creating a Market for Loans to Salaried Employees in New York City, 1885-1920." The Journal of Economic History 70, no. 2 (2010): 463-468).

Bruce Carruthers, Timothy Guinnane and Yoonseuk Lee ("Bringing “honest capital” to poor borrowers: The passage of the US Uniform Small Loan Law, 1907–1930." Journal of Interdisciplinary History 42, no. 3 (2012): 393-418).



I couldn’t find any mention of any of them.

I was beginning to think that the search function must not be working, then I searched for Geisst and there were numerous hits.


Perhaps the search in Google books is flawed. I hope that is the case. Maybe it only finds the name of the author. If the search is not flawed, I am puzzled how someone can write a book that does not cite any of the recent research on the topic. I assume from the low price that the book is aimed at something wider than a purely academic audience, but I’m not asking for a detailed historiography, just some references to relevant work.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Two Awards and Two Conferences

Between end of the semester grading and trying to work on the book on the history of bankruptcy that Mary Eschelbach Hansen and I are writing I haven't found much time to blog lately, but here are a few economic history things worth noting. 

Two Awards

Dave Donaldson won the John Bates Clark Medal. Although the prize committee’s statement does not refer to him as an economic historian, it emphasizes important work that he has done on historical topics. Most of his papers are available here at his website. Here is a Q &A with the Wall Street Journal

Naomi Lamoreaux was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Business History Conference.

Two Conferences

The program for the annual meeting of the Economic and Business History Society.


The program the NBER Summer Institute 2017 Development of the American Economy. Be sure to check back later because only two papers are linked right now,

Now back to the history of bankruptcy.