I am happy to inform you my paper presentation in the 2015 Economic History Association annual meeting at Nashville went great. The paper used the same database I first showed in the 2014 Business History Conference annual meeting at Frankfurt, which became my master’s essay. I was truly nervous before presenting as I wasn’t aware it is exceptional for students who are not in the job market to have their papers included in the Economic History Association program. I felt the expectations were really high. I worked on the PowerPoint with David Weiman (Barnard College/Columbia University), my advisor, for three weeks. The one issue I had was to rearticulate the master’s essay as an economic history paper, with a question that “sold” the work to an audience where economists were the majority. That’s why I decided to go with the plurality of currencies question as developed by Akinobu Kuroda.
Alexander Field (Santa Clara University) chaired the panel, aptly called Off Wall Street: Finance and Banking in the 19th Century US. First went Christopher Cotter (Vanderbilt University) an economics doctoral student who is in the job market and talked about railroads and the panic of 1873. Discussion ensued, after which I had 16 minutes to present. I managed to stay calm, in spite of some hesitation and a lot of fear, and got the entire presentation covered. Then, Matthew Jaremski (Colgate University) discussed my paper. His comments went on the direction that I anticipated. He pointed out the value of the database itself and the directions where I could take it. He also said that the concluding remarks were great (but [econometrically] untested) ideas. Questions and comments were really good, no one asked anything to devalue the merit of the work. Ted Fertik, a grad student of Yale pointed out precisely the direction where this project is going to be sold to historians (the political economy of money in antebellum America). Richard Sylla, Naomi Lamoreaux, and Larry Neal (former advisor of Alan Dye) were present, as well as some members of the Columbia University Economic History Seminar, such as Eric Hilt, Simone Wegge, and Mary Tone Rodgers. After my paper was done came John C. Bluedorn (International Monetary Fund) who presented about the regional effects of the panic of 1884 in Pennsylvania.
Curiously enough, when I was walking to see the books being exhibited, several doctoral students, both in economics and history got to talk to me and say they had really liked my presentation and had learned stuff they didn’t know anything about. The economics doctoral students were particularly impressed with the dataset, and the history doctoral students liked the implications in terms of what it means for monetary powers to be fragmented and what money can say about the integration of the South to the world.
Thereafter, I managed to talk to Dick Sylla and Naomi Lamoreaux who said they would be available for discussing my prospectus in late October. I shared room with Sebastián Fleitas (University of Arizona) who introduced me to many people, including Price Fishback (University of Arizona) and Ken Snowden (University of North Carolina at Greensboro). I also hang out with Natacha Postel-Vinay (London School of Economics, now Warwick University), Eric Gómez-i-Aznar (University of Barcelona), Brian D. Varian (London School of Economics) and briefly met Casey Lurtz (The University of Chicago, now Harvard University). I met on my own three scholars I admire the most, Phil Hoffman (Caltech), Gavin Wright (Stanford University, and former advisor of David Weiman) and Robert Margo (Boston University). I also finally met Jari Eloranta. All and all, going to Nashville has been reinvigorating for my career and I feel lucky to have had such a nice time at the EHA.