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93 posts on "Historical Echoes"

December 23, 2013

Historical Echoes: Santa, the Grinch, and Scrooge for the Holidays

Amy Farber

The Grinch (from the Dr. Seuss children’s book) and Santa are often invoked to describe what’s happening with consumer spending around the holidays. If consumers are able to spend more, then Santa’s responsible. But if they’re unable to spend more, then they’re forced to be more penny-pinching (which isn’t like the Grinch really, but more like Scrooge; either way, there’s the sense of Christmas being ruined).

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November 22, 2013

Historical Echoes: What Color Is My Day of the Week?

Amy Farber

Black Monday, Black Friday, Green Monday, Black Thursday, Silver Thursday, Red Thursday, Black Tuesday—How to keep track? The more famous of these phrases refer to either political or economic/financial events. Black usually symbolizes something negative (and when finance-related, usually refers to a market crash), but it also suggests something positive (being “in the black,” or out of debt). All the days near Thanksgiving called “black” are “black” in this way. Red seems to refer to fire, communism, being “in the red” (in debt), or anger (Red Thursday is caused by retail workers being forced to work on Thanksgiving). “White” days are often religious. “Blue” and “purple” and sometimes “pink” tend to be for social causes. For some reason, British miners like these appellations—they have Red Friday and White Thursday. Silver does come up—Silver Thursday refers to a commodities market panic that began with a steep drop in the price of silver in 1980.

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October 18, 2013

Historical Echoes: Passbooks and Hand Grenades

Megan Cohen

The Postal Savings System began in 1911 as a means for communities without banks to allow their citizens access to basic banking services. The system was seen as a means for banking without directly competing with banks. The height of utilization was during the period after the Great Depression through the end of World War II, when traditional banks reestablished themselves as secure sources of financial services.

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October 11, 2013

Historical Echoes: Throwing Coins into a Fountain—Who Is Getting Paid?

Amy Farber

Do you throw coins into a fountain when you see that others have done so?  A comprehensive and thoughtful student project on wishing well use in Southern California has been posted on the internet by University of California, Irvine, anthropology professor Bill Maurer. The 2006 project bases its findings on interviews of people throwing coins into fountains and states that:

Although the exact origins of this practice are unknown, offering money to water is an old tradition that can be dated back to Roman-British and Celtic mythology. Since then, the tradition of making a wish with a coin has been passed down through generations by socialization, evolving from a religious ritual into a fun, yet superstitious, cultural practice in Southern California.

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October 04, 2013

Historical Echoes: A Central Bank by Any Other Name Is Still . . .

Amy Farber

Perhaps you enjoy being read to out loud. Perhaps you enjoy being read to on subjects related to central banking. Perhaps you would enjoy being read the Wikipedia entries for central banks around the world. If so, and your reader was to read the following beginning sentences for central bank entries, you would hear:
The central bank of Trinidad and Tobago is the central bank of Trinidad and Tobago . . . . The central bank of Yemen is the central bank of Yemen . . . . The central bank of The Bahamas is the central bank of The Bahamas . . . . The central bank of Jordan is the central bank of Jordan . . .

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September 27, 2013

Historical Echoes: The Changing Face of Education in the United States

Rajashri Chakrabarti, Amy Farber, and Max Livingston

In two recent posts on New York and New Jersey and a series of interactive graphics, we explored the effect of the Great Recession on school district finances. But if we expand our scope a little wider, we see that school finances have been changing significantly over the past century. This makes sense, as schools have also changed a lot. Although we may take our current system for granted, schools at the turn of the century looked rather different from their present-day counterparts. As ideas of how to educate students changed, and as education became more common in the population, momentous changes took place not only in how education is imparted, but also in how much education costs and how it’s funded.

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August 23, 2013

Historical Echoes: It Wasn’t Brain Surgery - It Was the First Economic Table

Amy Farber

François Quesnay, an eighteenth-century brain surgeon and physician to France’s King Louis XV, was also the first to put economic data into a table. He became interested in economics while serving the king at Versailles. Quesnay led the physiocrats, the first economic school of thinking and supporters of a reduction in taxes on agriculture and of relatively laissez-faire policy. In 1758, he wrote Tableau Oeconomique (Economic Table - the table itself appears on Roman numeral p. x), which explores the relationship between economic classes. (You can view the tabular part of the original manuscript of the Economic Table on the Archives de France website and a larger image here.)

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August 09, 2013

Historical Echoes: Off the Charts!

Kathleen McKiernan

The visual representation of information, knowledge, or data has been around since the time of the caveman. But it wasn’t until 1786, when William Playfair, a Scottish engineer, published The Commercial and Political Atlas, illustrating for the first time how economic data could be represented by charts. Playfair’s work preceded that of Florence Nightingale—broadly acknowledged as the founder of modern nursing—who used information graphics in the 1850s to convince Queen Victoria that reform was needed in the British military health service. Nightingale developed the Coxcomb chart—a combination of stacked pie and bar charts—to assess mortality among soldiers during the Crimean War.

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July 19, 2013

Historical Echoes: “Happy Days” and Little Green Pieces of Paper

Amy Farber

In 1965, Baby-Boomer kids may have been treated to TV footage of a high-stepping chorus line and thousands of people cheering to the background tune “Happy Days Are Here Again.” They may have noticed the tinny sound of the singing and the antiquated clothing styles of the people in the footage and, not knowing why they were looking at this, thought: Hey, this is a really great song.

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July 12, 2013

Historical Echoes: Andy Warhol and the Art of Money

Megan Cohen

Money has been a topic of keen interest throughout history. As noted in a previous post, this fascination has extended into artwork created centuries ago through modern times. One artist who expanded the concept of what people perceive as art was Andy Warhol.

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