The 2022-23 Warren Center Faculty Fellowship will be on the theme of Capitalism’s Hardwiring: Money, Credit, and Finance in a Globalizing World, 1620-2020 led by Chris Desan (Harvard Law) and Kenneth Mack (Harvard Law).
The Warren Center, Harvard’s research center for United States history, invites applications for a workshop on Capitalism's Hardwiring. Twice within the last two decades, the United States has kicked the monetary apparatus that formats its economy into crisis gear. Each time, the government leapt to rescue a financial infrastructure that had grown indispensable to modern markets even as it escaped the mooring of the “real economy.” As Americans confronted the devastation of home mortgage values in 2008, officials committed more than $5 trillion in lending, guarantees, or financing to firms operating in the capital markets. As the COVID-19 pandemic of 2021 wreaked extraordinary damage, particularly on people and communities in economic precarity, the Federal Reserve pledged somewhere between $5.5 and $8.5 trillion over a matter of weeks to maintain the markets for public bonds, corporate borrowing, and other financial assets. (By comparison, the size of the entire 2019 federal budget was $4.5 trillion.) The central bank’s pledge dwarfed even the exceptional spending that Congress put in place over the same period – and the Fed promised that it would do more if needed; there were no caps on several of its programs.
We welcome scholars who explore the ways that money and finance draw lines around communities and between people. The ways that political communities and other institutions make money and allocate credit critically shapes material processes – channeling liquidity, fueling productivity, and influencing distribution. At the same time, those decisions about money and credit structure social life and interaction, locating in particular hands (and removing from others) the authority to mobilize resources, determining access to funds, and delegating power and privileges to private actors and organizations. Those same determinations shape us at the conceptual level, informing elemental notions about human agency and relation.