Sovereign Debt as a Problem of Modern Societies

May 23, 2013

Lecture at the GHI | Speaker: Hans-Peter Ullmann (University of Cologne) | Lecture Series: Public Debt in History

The escalation of public debts is a central topic of our time - both in in Europe and in the United States. The looming bankruptcies of entire nations are a pending danger, and so far only concerted bailout actions have prevented this scenario. Looking back at the history of public finance, we see that state bankruptcies are not uncommon and that the burdens of public debt can destabilize political systems. This lecture series proposes that the recent European sovereign debt crisis can be better understood as part of the history of economic integration from the 18th century onwards. To what extent and under which circumstances did economies show the same responses to high sovereign debt? When and how did financial crises make it difficult or impossible for countries to repay or refinance their debt without the assistance of third parties? Last but not least, why are bailouts common solutions, and what are some possible solutions for the future?

All lectures begin at 6:30 pm (refreshments will be served from 6:00 to 6:30 pm) and will be held at the German Historical Institute, 1607 New Hampshire Avenue NW (Directions). Please RSVP (acceptances only) by Tel. 202.387.3355, Fax 202.387.6437 or  E-mail.

Spring Lecture Series 2013

Public Debt in History

Organized by Hartmut Berghoff and Laura Rischbieter

  • Sovereign Debt as a Problem of Modern Societies
    May 23, 2013
    Speaker: Hans-Peter Ullmann (University of Cologne)
  • States vs. Banks: Debt and Crises in the Twentieth Century
    June 6, 2013
    Speaker: Moritz Schularick (University of Bonn)
  • "The lost decade": The Debt Crisis of the 1980s and the Reaction of the International Community
    June 13, 2013
    Speaker: Laura Rischbieter (GHI)
  • A Common Solution: Bailouts in History
    June 27, 2013
    Speaker: Robert E. Wright (Augustana College)