Looking in the right storage

Dr Giuseppe Telesca, adjunct lecturer in International Financial History at Richmond Business School, recently gained a Research Development Award from Richmond to participate in the Association of Business Historians conference in Sheffield.

At the conference, Dr Telesca presented his paper, entitled, Looking in the Right Storage. The British Banks, the Memory of Financial Crises, and the challenges of the archivesas he explains:

“It has been postulated that markets have a short memory and tend to easily forget past financial crises on the assumption that ‘this time is different’. However, in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, history seems to have regained currency, with commentators and policy-makers eager to look into past crises and ‘learn’ from them, finding useful responses for the present.

“The paper I presented in Sheffield aimed at answering an apparently simple question: do banks make use of the memory of previous financial crises at times of new financial crises? To answer this question, the paper verified whether, from the 1970s onwards, the banks at the apex of the British banking system went back to analyse past financial crises, and tried to learn from them, at times of new macroeconomic disturbances. It did it through the lenses of organisational memory. It found, maybe not surprisingly, that little space had been reserved to past crises in the very moment in which, paradoxically, the financial system was becoming again very unstable.”

Dr Telesca obtained his PhD in economic and social history at the University of Florence in Italy. He has written about the economic and urban impact of big sporting events, the role of financial elites and the memory of financial crises. He is currently working on the use of the memory of the 1931 sterling abandonment of the gold standard in British politics.