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Fall-Spring 2021 Seminar

Money Design and Inequality

Prerequisites: The seminar is intended for students who have studied money as a legal institution. Students must have completed one of the following courses previously: Constitutional Law: Money and the Making of American Capitalism; Legal Architecture of Globalization: Money, Debt, and Development; Regulation of Financial Institutions; or Regulation of International Finance; otherwise, students should seek permission from the instructor to waive the prerequisite.

Exam Type: No Exam. Students will submit a final paper (25-40 pages).

Modern societies face an escalating problem: inequality in material wealth, human well-being, and political voice endangers democracy at a fundamental level. This research seminar asks how money’s contemporary design may contribute to that predicament.

Money is the legal institution that mobilizes public resources, promotes economic exchange, and dispenses profits. It follows that the design of our monetary architecture configures distribution as well as productivity. The seminar offers students the opportunity for focused research on that issue over the academic year.

In the fall semester, we consider the literature on inequality and review the basic features of the modern monetary architecture. In turn, we sample work by scholars who argue that a particular dimension of modern money’s design engenders or increases inequality. In the spring semester, students will present their research on one such dimension. Research projects may be qualitative, quantitative, or historical.