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Lunchtime Seminar- 'Remembering the crises of the Great Depression through the financial press (1981-2019). A lopsided memory'

News mtime20190118154322
Event information
Date 2 March 2022
Time 13:00-14:30 (Timezone: Europe/London)
Price Free
Venue Online
Event types:

You are cordially invited to attend a research seminar by Dr Giuseppe Telesca, European University Institute, in Room 108, HBS on Wednesday 2nd March, at 13.00. For those who cannot attend in person please follow the link in your calendar email invitations(join Microsoft Teams Meeting) to join the seminar.

If you have not received a Teams invitation please contact Ellie Biggs.


While it has often been claimed that financial markets have short memory, the (alleged) tendency to forget financial crises has surprisingly escaped any tests. This is not irrelevant if one believes that the memory of financial crises – or its absence – plays a role in shaping economic narratives that, in turn, influence the behaviour of economic agents. This paper analyses a corpus of 1,725 articles published by the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal between 1981 and 2019. In these articles the financial crises of the Great Depression (GD) are remembered in various guises (in the great majority of the cases they are simply mentioned). The articles are classified according to three criteria: 1) the type of financial crisis of the GD remembered; 2) the level of engagement of the articles with the memory of past crises; 3) the use that journalists/experts make of the past. Together with a taxonomy of the two financial newspapers’ modes of remembering the financial crises of the GD, accompanied by tables and figures linked to each of the three classifications mentioned above, the paper reflects on the nature of the process of remembering by the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Memory studies have gone beyond the idea that the construction of memory is a binary struggle between forgetting and recollecting. Remembering seems to be less a matter of accurate recall of isolated pieces of information and more an exercise in arranging fragments of information into a general scheme – a process that does not exclude neither distortion, nor obliteration of ‘incongruous’ facts. The articles under consideration confirm this point, as the two newspapers, depending on the circumstances, remember the crises of the GD to:

  • provide reassurance to, or warning the financial markets
  • draw lessons from the crises of the Great Depression for cognitive reasons or to criticise/justify a decision which has already been taken.