3-year PhD Studentship at the University of Glasgow

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The University of Glasgow offers a 3-year PhD Studentship (including fees and living expenses) from September 2016, in the framework of the HERA project ‘Reputation, Risk and Moral Hazard in Sovereign Debt Markets’. The successful student will be part of a larger international team of academics from Scotland, Switzerland, Spain and Sweden exploring uses of the past in international economic relations.

The ‘Reputation, Risk and Moral Hazard in Sovereign Debt Markets’ project

One of the many exceptional aspects of the global financial crisis of 2008 was the prominence policy‐makers and commentators gave to the importance of history in helping to determine responses to the crisis. Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the US Federal Reserve System famously reached for his copy of Friedman and Schwartz’s seminal volume on the 1930s depression to seek inspiration (Friedman and Schwartz, 1963). Comparisons with the great depression of the 1930s feature prominently in commentaries on the depth and spread of the global financial crisis and reveal the extent to which policy‐makers seek to ‘learn’ from the past. But how relevant is the past as a guide to the present, or even the future, and how is it used when policymakers, bankers and the public are faced with difficult economic challenges?

The programme of doctoral research will focus on the European cases in socialist Eastern and Central Europe during the 1970s‐1980s (Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Hungary). Perceptions of the past played a significant role in the Eastern and Central European debt crises of the 1970s‐1980s. Political considerations heavily influenced discussions about sovereign debt in Europe in this period whether the aim was to bring the two halves of Europe closer, or to merely loosen the Soviet hold on Eastern Europe. In particular, as some of the banks involved were under state control, governments prioritised historical and political reflections over economic rationales to support those countries in difficulty. Relevant archives include BNP Paribas, Société Générale and Crédit Agricole in France; Barclays, HSBC/Midland and Lloyds International Bank in the UK; Commerzbank and Dresdner Bank in Germany as well as the IMF in Washington. This project promises a rich discussion of the overlapping economic, political, cultural and financial influences on the role of international finance in the transition from the Cold War and how interpretations of the histories of these states influenced their behaviour and position in the market.

The main objective of the programme of researchis project, which is funded through an Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) grant, is to build an understanding of how both policy‐makers and market actors use the past as a foundation for their decisions, how they create and discriminate among different interpretations of the past to fit their preconceptions and how they are conditioned by the experiences of their predecessors. Through careful archival research and case studies we also seek to trace the intergenerational transfer of interpretations of the past and how the past is used within a range of institutions across Europe. The project will therefore break new ground for our understanding of how the past is used in the context of international economic relations, particularly at times of crisis. We also hope to refresh the research agenda in economic history in the European Research Area to engage with the uses of the past.


A student should have gained an undergraduate degree from a recognised university, and should normally have, or be studying for, a Master’s degree or similar postgraduate qualification (or have equivalent experience). Students who are ordinarily resident in any HERA country (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom) are eligible for the full studentship award including stipend to cover living expenses.


Professor Catherine Schenk ([email protected])