Prof. Hans-Joachim Voth

UBS Foundation Professor of Macroeconomics and Financial Markets

Discover Prof. Hans-Joachim Voth on

Joachim Voth received his PhD from Oxford in 1996. He works on financial crises, long-run growth, as well as on the origins of political extremism. He has examined public debt dynamics and bank lending to the first serial defaulter in history, analysed risk-taking behaviour by lenders as a result of personal shocks, and the investor performance during speculative bubbles. Joachim has also examined the deep historical roots of anti-Semitism, showing that the same cities where pogroms occurred in the Middle Age also persecuted Jews more in the 1930s; he has analyzed the extent to which schooling can create radical racial stereotypes over the long run, and how dense social networks (“social capital”) facilitated the spread of the Nazi party. In his work on long-run growth, he has investigated the effects of fertility restriction, the role of warfare, and the importance of state capacity. Joachim has published more than 80 academic articles and 3 academic books, 5 trade books and more than 50 newspaper columns, op-eds and book reviews. His research has been highlighted in The Economist, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, El Pais, Vanguardia, La Repubblica, the Frankfurter Allgemeine, NZZ, der Standard, der Spiegel, CNN, RTN, Swiss and German TV and radio.

Interests

Macroeconomics, Political Economy, Financial Markets, Economic History

UBS Foundation Professor of Macroeconomics and Financial Markets

Prof. Hans-Joachim Voth

Discover Prof. Hans-Joachim Voth on

Joachim Voth received his PhD from Oxford in 1996. He works on financial crises, long-run growth, as well as on the origins of political extremism. He has examined public debt dynamics and bank lending to the first serial defaulter in history, analysed risk-taking behaviour by lenders as a result of personal shocks, and the investor performance during speculative bubbles. Joachim has also examined the deep historical roots of anti-Semitism, showing that the same cities where pogroms occurred in the Middle Age also persecuted Jews more in the 1930s; he has analyzed the extent to which schooling can create radical racial stereotypes over the long run, and how dense social networks (“social capital”) facilitated the spread of the Nazi party. In his work on long-run growth, he has investigated the effects of fertility restriction, the role of warfare, and the importance of state capacity. Joachim has published more than 80 academic articles and 3 academic books, 5 trade books and more than 50 newspaper columns, op-eds and book reviews. His research has been highlighted in The Economist, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, El Pais, Vanguardia, La Repubblica, the Frankfurter Allgemeine, NZZ, der Standard, der Spiegel, CNN, RTN, Swiss and German TV and radio.

Interests

Macroeconomics, Political Economy, Financial Markets, Economic History

Selected publications

  • Rage against the machines with Bruno Caprettini UBS Center Policy Brief 2018 download

  • Leverage and Beliefs: Personal Experience and Risk Taking in Margin Lending with Peter Koudijs forthcoming, American Economic Review download

  • Bowling for Fascism: Social Capital and the Rise of the Nazi Party in Weimar Germany, 1919-33 with Shanker Satyanath, Nico Voigtländer, forthcoming, Journal of Political Economy download

  • State Capacity and Military Conflict with Nicola Gennaioli Review of Economic Studies, 82, 2015 download

Research

Hans-Joachim Voth’s research analyzes the determinants of Europe’s rise to riches, the causes of booms and busts in financial markets, and the social and economic origins of political extremism. In a set of three recent papers, Voth argues that three things made Europe much richer much earlier than any other continent – more (and more costly) wars, lower land productivity, and uniquely unhealthy cities. Combining theory with empirical evidence, he shows how each factor raised per capita output and fed into self-sustaining gains in productivity. Along the way, Europe did not only grow rich but built the first highly capable states in history. In other recent work, Voth examined how the experience of almost losing money modifies risk-taking in financial markets, looking at asset-backed lending in 18th century Amsterdam. Prior work had only looked at the effect of actual adverse shocks, which also affect asset values, earnings, and human capital accumulation. By showing that getting close to a loss alone can modify risk-taking, this work can help to explain why risk-taking is typically procylical – larger in booms, and sharply curtailed in busts. This research extends his earlier empirical work that showed that “riding bubbles” can be optimal for investors, and that lending to serial defaulters can be highly profitable.

Voth has also analyzed the effect of social capital on the willingness to join the canonical example of a radical party – the Nazi party. From the days of Tocqueville and in recent work by Putnam, social capital – a dense network of clubs and associations – are seen as a key factor that makes democracy work, by teaching individuals to interact as equals. Voth’s work shows that there is a dark side to social capital – greater social proximity can also facilitate the spread of extremist beliefs, in the same way as close physical proximity facilitates the spread of viruses. Using newly collected data on the number and types of clubs and associations in interwar Germany, Voth shows that Nazi party entry surged where density was high – including for the case of seemingly “innocent” associations like hiking and chess clubs. This research builds on earlier work showing the importance of deep historical roots for the rise of anti-Semitism in interwar Germany, and the effects of Nazi schooling.

Hans-Joachim Voth’s research analyzes the determinants of Europe’s rise to riches, the causes of booms and busts in financial markets, and the social and economic origins of political extremism. In a set of three recent papers, Voth argues that three things made Europe much richer much earlier than any other continent – more (and more costly) wars, lower land productivity, and uniquely unhealthy cities. Combining theory with empirical evidence, he shows how each factor raised per capita output and fed into self-sustaining gains in productivity. Along the way, Europe did not only grow rich but built the first highly capable states in history. In other recent work, Voth examined how the experience of almost losing money modifies risk-taking in financial markets, looking at asset-backed lending in 18th century Amsterdam. Prior work had only looked at the effect of actual adverse shocks, which also affect asset values, earnings, and human capital accumulation. By showing that getting close to a loss alone can modify risk-taking, this work can help to explain why risk-taking is typically procylical – larger in booms, and sharply curtailed in busts. This research extends his earlier empirical work that showed that “riding bubbles” can be optimal for investors, and that lending to serial defaulters can be highly profitable.

Voth has also analyzed the effect of social capital on the willingness to join the canonical example of a radical party – the Nazi party. From the days of Tocqueville and in recent work by Putnam, social capital – a dense network of clubs and associations – are seen as a key factor that makes democracy work, by teaching individuals to interact as equals. Voth’s work shows that there is a dark side to social capital – greater social proximity can also facilitate the spread of extremist beliefs, in the same way as close physical proximity facilitates the spread of viruses. Using newly collected data on the number and types of clubs and associations in interwar Germany, Voth shows that Nazi party entry surged where density was high – including for the case of seemingly “innocent” associations like hiking and chess clubs. This research builds on earlier work showing the importance of deep historical roots for the rise of anti-Semitism in interwar Germany, and the effects of Nazi schooling.

Joachim Voth on Google Scholarbrowse

Videos

In the media

  • Wurzeln des Populismus Finanz und Wirtschaft Meinungsartikel vom 10.10.2019 lesen

  • Höhere Mieten für alle! FAZ Meinungsartikel vom 15.06.2019 lesen

  • Sozialer Aufstieg dauert Generationen Finanz und Wirtschaft vom 27.05.2019 lesen

  • How failing banks paved Hitler's path to power VoxEU from March 15, 2019 read

  • Der Feind, die Maschine Finanz und Wirtschaft Never Mind the Markets Blog vom 12.11.2018 lesen

Quotes

Financial history may hold many lessons, but the inevitability of crises is not one of them. Although it is relatively easy to stop them, doing so comes at a cost, and this cost may be quite high. In other words, the right number of financial crises is probably not zero.
The most fundamental innovation in finance in the past 100 years was the ATM.

Interviews and features

2015

2014

Images

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