The interesting life of Alfred Mummery

An economist and a mountain climber? The perfect nineteenth century combination! Alfred Mummery built his mountain climbing reputation on the Matterhorn and led the first team to attempt to climb the 8126m Nanga Parbat in the Himalayas. This fatal attempt was in 1895, and Nanga Parbat would take 30 more lives before it was successfully summited in 1953.

Mummery also co-authored The Physiology of Industry in 1889 with economist J.A. Hobson, the famous proponent of under-consumptionist theories. This was a notable contribution to heterodox economics at the time, and J.M. Keynes discussed the work at length in the General Theory chapter 23 (which apparently nobody reads these days). Keynes offers an extended quote from Hobson about how they came to work together...

Read More

J.M. Keynes's The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money

The General Theory is a classic, and rightly so. That said, the book is dense, and Keynes's writing is occasionally unclear. After a close reading this summer, I wanted to share the notes I took on the work to offer a sort of "guide" to the text. The notes are straightforward summaries and extended quotes with little commentary. For good commentary on the work, I recommend Mark Blaug's guide in Economic Theory in Retrospect, as well as Paul Krugman's introduction to the General Theory here.

Read More

A brief history of building societies

I really enjoyed learning about building societies this spring, which are a classic British banking institution I was unfamiliar with before I crossed the pond. Here are some (edited) notes I took during my studies offering a short history of building societies (and elaborating why I think they are so cool!)

Building societies formed as a type of friendly society in the late eighteenth century. Their purpose was to provide members with homes by pooling member savings deposits to provide mortgage loans for tenured members, many of whom were working class. Friendly societies were recognized legally in 1793 and were considered separately under the law from joint-stock corporations, who were limited at the time by the 1720 Bubble Act. Building societies were treated as a type of friendly society under the law until they were officially recognized in the 1836 Regulation of Building Societies Act...

Read More