Dr. Tiemann’s Historical Research
These are unusual times that we are living in and, with many of the foundation so our monetary systems being challenged, Dr. Tiemann set out to think more deeply about money and banking. He has been researching the historical antecedents to our federal monetary system, as originally conceived by Alexander Hamilton and established with the Compromise of 1790, and as more fully illuminated through a series of historical events occurring during and after the enormous economic expansion associated with Gold Rush California. Dr. Tiemann has found that researching Gold Rush history has provided a fertile, ab ovo context for thinking systematically about banking in general. Additionally, his study of original documents from the Gold Rush era have yielded deep insights and fresh vignettes into the colorful lives of important historical personalities, such as William A. Leidesdorff, Joseph Hawley, James King of William and William Tecumseh Sherman. He has enjoyed gleaning more intimate details of the financial activities of these colorful characters and placing them into context within the uniquely Californian banking idiosyncrasies of that era. Inspired by this original blend of banking, Gold Rush and early California history, Dr. Tiemann is now concurrently working on bringing important historical banking lessons into view through the lives of these notable figures for general readers. Below are some of his published working papers and talks he has presented enroute to development of a full manuscript, which he expects to have complete later in 2019.
Monetary Stimulus (June 2020) Can an injection of liquidity — even a temporary one — into an economy where money is tight produce a meaningful improvement in economic conditions? This is the question that Dr. Tiemann explores in this note. He cites an economic fable and reviews historical records that revealed how the arrival of a Russian trading brig, the Baykal, bearing an official-looking Russian bill of exchange but otherwise empty, helped produce a type of localized economic stimulus during the Gold Rush era. Dr. Tiemann then explains how the economic stimulus currently being offered by the Congress in response to the dislocations caused by the coronavirus can have a meaningful effect on the economy.
Why the Debt Ceiling Matters—And what to do about it (February 2018) Dr. Tiemann was the invited speaker at the Business Management Discussion Group meeting held on Monday, February 4th in Santa Monica, California. His talk was entitled “Why the Debt Ceiling Matters – and What to do About It.” This talk provided the historical precedents and background for how it was that the federal government’s debt—and its commitment to always provide payment upon it—became the foundation of America’s financial system.
Contagion 1855: How the Crimean War Felled San Francisco’s Largest Banks (July 2018) When policymakers analyze banking crises, they often search for diagnostic clues in the specific environment in which they occurred. This paper analyzes the 1855 failures of the largest banks in Gold Rush San Francisco, arguing that the antecedents of those failures — excessive leverage, interlocking ownership, inadequate segregation of assets, and concentration of risk in non- banking enterprises — were independent of the monetary and economic regime in place at the time. Those antecedents exposed Gold Rush bankers to external risks originating in events in which they had no involvement, and over which they had no control. The external events that felled the largest banks in San Francisco emerged from the Crimean War.
Globalization 1855: How the Crimean War Upended Banking in Gold Rush San Francisco, July 16, 2018. Dr. Tiemann has continued to spend considerable time researching Gold Rush history as a means for thinking systematically about banking in general. He has become a member of the California Historical Society, based in San Francisco, and reader at the Huntington Library, which is based in Pasadena, California. Dr. Tiemann was invited to give a talk previewing his research to members of the Huntington Library community and he did so at a brown bag lunch at the Huntington on July 16, 2018. The title of his talk was “Globalization 1855: How the Crimean War Upended Banking in Gold Rush San Francisco.” (Click the highlighted link or the image to download the slides that he used in presenting his research.)