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Understanding Financial Crisis: Business Cycles and Policy

Discover the relationship between history, financial crises and business cycles, with this free online course.

5,560 enrolled on this course

  • Duration

    5 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

Economic crises often have severe consequences - for everyone from governments and corporations to you and I. But crises can be seen as an essential part of an evolving economy, along with structural adjustments and institutional changes. In this course you will learn more about the role of financial crises, their history and how they can be interpreted.

Explore the history of financial crisis

Can we learn from the history of crises? With this course we’ll see financial crisis from a historical perspective - investigating different incidences of crisis in relation to context. By the end of the course you should be able to define and describe various economic and financial crises, and interpret such crises from a historical perspective.

Understand the relationship between financial crises and business cycles

Financial crises and business cycles are often closely interrelated. Various crises have evolved in different ways, depending on expectations, economic conditions, as well as institutional conditions, but we can also see some common patterns from historical examples. Could financial crisis be part of a natural business cycle?

Learn how to effectively analyse financial crises

Throughout the course you’ll develop your ability to identify and explain the various relationships between political action, economic theory, and economic cycle. This will lead to you being able to interpret various crises and their causes, their historical paths, and consequences in political and economic terms.

The central theme of this course is why and how business cycle slumps and financial market crashes have tended to occur and reoccur, and in what ways such downturns have been managed throughout history.

Ever since the world transitioned from agrarian to industrialised economies, most countries have depended on business cycles and the performance of financial markets for their growth and progress. When financial disturbances have emerged at various times, the whole economy could be affected. Such turbulences have been observed in the slowing of economic growth and, occasionally, even political unrest.

So, if business slumps and financial market turbulence have caused such big problems, why do they tend to re-emerge? Is there nothing to learn from history? During the course, we present five infamous downturns, which had a major impact when they occurred. As you will see during the course, although the downturns differed with regards to origin, impact, and persistence, they displayed certain common patterns and features. Such regularities, as well as the way the downturns have been managed, are highlighted in the course’s historical examples.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds Cash, notes, gold, wealth, bubbles, crisis and poverty Money could be seen as something good or a root of all kinds of evil. What is a financial crisis? What will happen when the music stops? What can we learn from history? The world has changed since the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Our current financial systems were generated by past successes and failures. In this course we will discuss some of the key theories that economic historians and economists - have uncovered to explain why financial crises occur we will take you through - Tulip mania and the South Sea bubble, the crises of 1870s, the Great Depression and the Subprime crisis.

Skip to 1 minute and 13 seconds Some say that the sources of these crises can be found in the way we think and act in the financial system Others see the seed to Economic destruction in the way we set up our societies and financial systems. We can learn a great deal regarding financial crises from history. What do you think?

What topics will you cover?

  • Presents explanations of financial crises in history.
  • Provides basic definitions of crises.
  • Explores why financial crises occur.
  • Covers challenges of financial crises from the 17th century until today.
  • Provides empirical descriptions of six financial crises through history.
  • Covers debates regarding the various factors behind financial crises.
  • Relates the various policy actions taken by governments after each of the discussed examples of financial crises.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Reflect on financial crises from a historical perspective.
  • Discuss various financial crises.
  • Explore patterns of financial crises through modern history.
  • Synthesise common patterns of various financial crises.

Who is the course for?

You don’t need any prior knowledge to take this course, but an interest in finance, history, or economic history might be useful.

Who will you learn with?

Professor Jan Ottosson, Department of Economic History, Uppsala University, Sweden. I am interested in financial crises, regulations, and business and financial history. http://katalog.uu.se/profile/?

Associate Professor Peter Hedberg, Department of Economic History, Research interests: Foreign trade history, 20th century interwar and wartime economic and political history.

PhD in Economic History, Uppsala University (Uppsala, Sweden), 2017. MA in History from Uppsala University, 2012. BA in History and Scandinavian Studies from University of Alberta ( Canada), 2010.

I am a PhD student in Economic History since the fall of 2013. MA in Economic History and BA in Economic History and Economics from Uppsala University.

Who developed the course?

Uppsala University

Uppsala University is the first university in Sweden, founded in 1477. There are about 45,000 students and 6,000 employees at Uppsala university.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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