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Eric Monnet (Banque de France) and Angelo Riva (EBS-Paris and PSE)


The recent financial crisis again highlighted the weak empirical foundations of the economic and financial analytical models used to shape stakeholders’ expectations, financial innovation and regulations. One of the reasons for this shortcoming is the scarcity of long-run financial micro-data available to test theoretical models and understand the evolution and institutional singularities of financial systems. The deficit of long-run financial micro-data is particularly glaring at European level. European research projects on the history of banking and finance have often no choice but to use the American financial micro-databases. This is also true for debates on policy issues which still mostly rely on US experience, especially when the interwar Great Depression is used as a reference. It appears even more necessary to fill the gap since the creation of the Banking Union. Europe has an urgent need of structured databases and collaborative research projects that can capture the behavior of the European financial system as a whole, as well as the particularities of European financial development, in its economic, legal, social and political dimensions.

This workshop aims at setting conditions to fill this gap with a particular attention devoted to the methodological issues faced by quantitative historians of banking and finance. It brings together leading experts on the history of national financial and banking systems to discuss difficulties in building historical databases and to exchange views on the best practices to overcome them (exploring European standards of historical micro-data collection). The wide range of organizations and regulations in the European financial systems, as well as the absence of banking regulation in most countries before the 1930s, make it harder and more expensive to build these databases than in the USA. It is not an impossible task but its accomplishment depends on an effort to organize and coordinate within the European academic world. Scholars working on non-European areas will also provide welcome and necessary help, sharing their experience from other countries.

The first day of the workshop will focus on financial markets. The second day will focus on banks. Presentations do not need to be based on new research or completed papers. They should take the form of methodological reflections and recommendations based on original research that built or collected historical financial data. We ask each presenter to address the following questions (if appropriate) :

· Why did you need to construct a new database to answer your research question? Why was existing data insufficient or absent? How peculiar is it to the country/area under study?

· What were the historical sources? Which constraints did you experience to access and use the sources?

· Which technology did you use to construct, store and share the database (data modeling, technologies to capture data; data storage and dissemination; project management etc.)? What had been the main difficulties?

· How did you use the data? Which econometric or statistical techniques turned to be the most appropriate and why? Brief summary of results.

The workshop is financed by two research grants from the French National Agency for Research (Equipex DFIH and ANR SYSRI-30) and other institutions supporting these projects (Labex OSE, Paris School of Economics). The research projects financed by these grants aim at constructing two new French financial databases: one on Parisian stock markets, one on French banks during the interwar period.

Scholars who would like to attend the seminar without presenting are welcome. Participation at the conference is free, but registration is compulsory. To register, please write to ( and in cc.) as soon as possible, and before March 10th.



Maison de la Tunisie et Fondation Hellénique, April 6th - 7th

45A  Boulevard Jourdan, 75014 Paris

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