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Futures Past. Economic Forecasting in the 20th and 21st Century

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Edited By Ulrich Fritsche, Roman Köster and Laetitia Lenel

Few areas in economics are as controversial as economic forecasting. While the field has sparked great hopes for the prediction of economic trends and events throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, economic forecasts have often proved inaccurate or unreliable, thus provoking severe criticism in times of unpredicted crisis. Despite these failures, economic forecasting has not lost its importance. Futures Past considers the history and present state of economic forecasting, giving a fascinating account of the changing practices involved, their origins, records, and their implications. By bringing together economists, historians, and sociologists, this volume offers fresh perspectives on the place of forecasting in modern industrial societies, thereby making a broader claim for greater interdisciplinary cooperation in the history of economics.

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List of Authors

List of Authors

Jörg Döpke teaches economics and empirical research methods at the University of Applied Sciences, Merseburg. Before joining this institution, he has been affiliated with the Kiel Institute of World Economics and the German central bank. Research interests include empirical macroeconomics and business cycle forecasting.

Contact: joerg.doepke@hs-merseburg.de.

Ulrich Fritsche is an economist and Full Professor of Economics, esp. Applied Economics at Universität Hamburg. His research interests include forecasting methods, macroeconomic expectation formation of households and experts, and time series econometrics.

Contact: ulrich.fritsche@uni-hamburg.de.

Roman Köster is currently Visiting Professor at the Bundeswehr University in Munich. His research interests include economic and environmental history with focus on the 20th century. Among other topics he has written about the “Crisis” of German economics during the 1920s (“Die Wissenschaft der Außenseiter,” 2011) and the history of waste management after 1945 in West Germany (“Hausmüll. Abfall und Gesellschaft in Westdeutschland 1945–1990,” 2017).

Contact: roman.koester@unibw.de.

Laetitia Lenel is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of History at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Her research focuses on economic knowledge practices and the history of capitalism. Her research project, which is part of the Priority Programme 1859 “Experience and Expectation. Historical Foundations of Economic Behaviour” funded by the German Research Foundation, explores the Euro-American history of business forecasting in the 20th century.

Contact: laetitialenel@hu-berlin.de.

Jan Logemann is assistant professor (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter and Privatdozent) at the Institute for Economic and Social History, Georg August University of Göttingen. He explores modern U.S. American and German economic history from a transnational perspective. He most recently published “Engineered to Sell: European Emigrés and the Making of Consumer Capitalism” (Chicago University Press, 2019) and is co-editor (with Gary Cross and Ingo Köhler) of “Consumer Engineering, 1920s–1970s: Marketing between Expert Planning and Consumer Responsiveness” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).

Contact: jan.logemann@wiwi.uni-goettingen.de.

Olivier Pilmis is a Research Fellow in Sociology at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and a member of the Centre de Sociologie des Organisations (Sciences Po - CNRS). His research applies economic sociology, organizational sociology, and sociological theory to the study of macroeconomic forecasting.

Contact: olivier.pilmis@sciencespo.fr.

Werner Reichmann is a sociologist and Privatdozent at the University of Konstanz. He analyzes economics and economic forecasting from a sociological perspective, works on human interaction under digital conditions, and investigates the connections between architecture and society. Further information can be found at www.wernerreichmann.net.

Contact: werner.reichmann@uni-konstanz.de.

Marion Ronca is currently Ph.D. candidate and scientific researcher at the University of Zurich. She writes her Ph.D. thesis on the history of economic observation in Switzerland. Her research interests are among others the history of economic thought, quantitative rationalization as modern ideal, and managerial practices of the nation state.

Contact: marion_ronca@kulturversus.net.

Tara M. Sinclair is an associate professor of economics and international affairs at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. Sinclair is also co-director of the H. O. Stekler Research Program on Forecasting where she evaluates real time economic data and forecasts. Much of Sinclair’s research has focused on the role of recessions in economic models and forecasts. Her research and commentary is covered regularly by the media including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.

Contact: tsinc@gwu.edu.

Gabi Waldhof is interested in social (group) behaviour and moral behaviour. At the Economic Ethics Chair in Halle, and at IAMO, Halle, she is currently working on her Ph.D. on moral values and their impact on biotechnology acceptance. Prior to starting her Ph.D., Waldhof worked in the DFG priority program “Experience and Expectation. Historical Foundations of Economic Behaviour.” Additionally, she worked as a research assistant at the Department of Experimental Psychology of the University of Oxford, at the Saïd Business School of Oxford, at the Halle Institute of Economic Research, and in the Laboratory of Experimental and Behavioural Economics in Moscow.

Contact: waldhof@iamo.de.

Timo Walter is currently a visiting research fellow at the University of Edinburgh. His current research is on the history and sociology of finance, focusing in particular on the formalization and financialization of economic rationality. He has published on the financialization of central banking, qualitative methodology, and the semiotics of financial markets.

Contact: timo.walter@graduateinstitute.ch.