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Hamilton unbound : finance and the creation of the American Republic /
Robert E. Wright.
Westport, CT : Greenwood Press, 2002.
xii, 230 p. ; 24 cm.
More Details
Westport, CT : Greenwood Press, 2002.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. [199]-217) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Robert E. Wright is Lecturer in Economics at the University of Virginia
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2003-03-01:
This provocative and well-researched work examines early American history from the standpoint of modern financial theory. In chapter 1 Wright (economics, Univ. of Virginia) uses cost-benefit analysis to explain the American Revolution. Restrictive British monetary policies increased Colonial interest rates. The resulting reduction in "capitalized values" of Colonial assets created "debtor angst" and eventually revolution since the "costs" of remaining in the British Empire far exceeded the "benefits." In chapter 2 the author shows how the framers of the US Constitution promoted "checks and balances" by reducing information asymmetry and principal-agent problems through the devices of tripartite government, bicameral legislatures, executive veto, and judicial review of legislation. Chapter 3 examines the link between finance and economic growth. Alexander Hamilton's brilliantly conceived financial system created economic growth and wealth when, according to the author, it was "combined with the property assurances supplied by a stable, nonpredatory government" as found in the Constitution. The remaining three chapters examine the role of banking in the 1800 election, the prevalence of the dueling institution in these states where credit worthiness depended more on honor and character than traditional loan criteria, and the evolution of financial markets and the subjugation of women. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduate through faculty collections. F. Petrella emeritus, College of the Holy Cross
Review Quotes
'œ[A] good clear amount of some important but relatively untouched subjects.'' Journal of the Early Republic
'œThis provocative and well-researched work examines early American history from the standpoint of modern financial theory....Highly Recommended. Upper-division undergraduate through faculty collections.'' Choice
'œ[W]ell worth reading. The author writes in an engaging style and offers more than a couple provocative, well-defended hypotheses. [a]n ambitious attempt to apply the techniques of modern finace to a number of topics not generally thought to be amenable to such an approach.'' E.H NET
'œ[W]right provides finance-based interpretations of important events, from the underlying causes of the american Revolution to the adoption of the U.S Constitution, from economic growth to the role of banks and urban finance in the election of 1800, from dueling to the subjugation of women....[r]aises issues that will be of interest to economic historians....Wright is a gifted storyteller and makes exceptional use of documentary archival sources....[w]ell worth reading. The author writes in an engaging style and offers more than a couple provocative, well-defended hypotheses.'' E.H Net
"Business schools teach financial theories and concepts to enable MBAs to make money. In this fascinating book on early U.S. history, Robert Wright, Ph.D., uses them to explain why Americans declared independence, why they put checks and balances into their constitutions, why Jefferson defeated Adams in the critical election of 1800, why southerners were more fond of dueling than northerners, and why women went from active to passive roles in the early U.S. economy. It is an innovative and path-breaking work of historical interpretation." - Richard Sylla Henry Kaufman Professor of the History of Financial Institutions and Markets and Professor of Economics New York University
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, March 2003
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Long Description
Modern financial theories enable us to look at old problems in early American Republic historiography from new perspectives. Concepts such as information asymmetry, portfolio choice, and principal-agent dilemmas open up new scholarly vistas. Transcending the ongoing debates over the prevalence of either community or capitalism in early America, Wright offers fresh and compelling arguments that illuminate motivations for individual and collective actions, and brings agency back into the historical equation. Wright argues that the Colonial rebellion was in part sparked by destabilizing British monetary policy that threatened many with financial insolvency; that in areas without modern financial institutions and practices, dueling was a rational means of protecting one's creditworthiness; that the principle-agent problem led to the institutionalization of the U.S. Constitution's system of checks and balances; and that a lack of information and education induced women to shift from active business owners to passive investors. Economists, historians, and political scientists alike will be interested in this strikingly novel and compelling recasting of our nation's formative decades.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
Interest Rates and the Coming of the American Revolutionp. 9
Early U.S. Constitutions as Solutions to the Principal-Agent Problemp. 59
Financial Development, Economic Growth, and Political Stabilityp. 89
Banks and the "revolution" of 1800p. 127
Credit Analysis and the Prevalence of Duelingp. 153
Financial Markets and the Subjugation of Womenp. 173
Requiemp. 195
Referencesp. 199
Indexp. 219
About the Authorp. 231
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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