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Understanding Financial Crisis (MOOC)

 Understanding Financial Crisis (MOOC)

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.

About the course

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?

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, 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, five infamous downturns are presented, 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.

What you will learn

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

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


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

About the instructors

Professor Jan Ottosson is from the Department of Economic History at Uppsala University, Sweden. He is interested in financial crises, regulations, and business and financial history.

Associate Professor Peter Hedberg is from the Department of Economic History. His research interests vary from the fields of foreign trade history to 20th century interwar and wartime economic and political history.

Sarah Linden Pasay is a PhD in Economic History at Uppsala University (Uppsala, Sweden), 2017. She has obtained an MA in History from Uppsala University, 2012 and a BA in History and Scandinavian Studies from University of Alberta (Canada), 2010.

Jakob Molinder is a PhD student in Economic History since the fall of 2013. He has obtained a MA in Economic History and BA in Economic History and Economics from Uppsala University.

Starting date: 12 June, 2017

Duration: 5 weeks, 4 hours per week

Language: English

Instructors: Jan Ottosson, Peter Hedberg, Sarah Linden Pasay, Jakob Molinder

Institution: Uppsala University 



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