Eight Hundred Years of Financial Folly
The economics profession has an unfortunate tendency to view recent experience in the narrow window provided by standard datasets. With a few notable exceptions, cross-country empirical studies on financial crises typically begin in 1980 and are limited in other important respects. Yet an event that is rare in a three decade span may not be all that rare when placed in a broader context. In my paper with Kenneth Rogoff we introduce a comprehensive new historical database for studying debt and banking crises, inflation, currency crashes and debasements. The data covers sixty-six countries in across all regions. The range of variables encompasses external and domestic debt, trade, GNP, inflation, exchange rates, interest rates, and commodity prices. The coverage spans eight centuries, going back to the date of independence or well into the colonial period for some countries.
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