David Bieri: Monetary Amnesia: How Regional Science Abandoned Monetary Thought

Historical photograph and illustrations of a machine designed to show the workings of the economic system

Historical photograph and illustrations showing a machine designed to show the workings of the economic system. photo / Punch magazine (1953); L.S.E. Quarterly (1988)

David Bieri is an associate professor of urban affairs and affiliate associate professor of economics at Virginia Tech (VT), with a joint appointment in the Global Forum on Urban and Regional Resilience. He also holds an endowed appointment as faculty fellow in the VT Program in Real Estate. Bieri’s current research project, Money and the Metropolis, studies how the urbanization of credit has transformed American capitalism over the past two centuries. His other research examines regulatory aspects of international finance, global monetary governance, and their role in the process of financialization. He also writes about the history of economic thought. Before joining the faculty at VT, Bieri was a faculty member at Taubman College at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Prior to his academic appointments, he held various senior positions in central banking and investment banking, including at the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, and at Bankers Trust and UBS in London. Bieri received his Ph.D. in public policy from VT. He holds a master’s in corporate and international finance from the University of Durham (U.K.) and a B.Sc. (with honors) in economics from the London School of Economics.


From highly localized mass foreclosures to extreme municipal fiscal stress, the Great Financial Crisis has been a powerful reminder that the monetary-financial system — always and everywhere — matters for the evolution of the space-economy. Yet, the current literature in regional science and urban economics has little to say about monetary phenomena and their spatial consequences. The widespread disengagement of regional scientists with respect to money, credit, and banking represents a drastic break with the discipline’s intellectual origins over three-quarters of a century ago. This talk reexamines the monetary content of some of the foundational works in regional science. In particular, Bieri argues that August Lösch (1906–45) and Walter Isard (1919-2010), the former a student of Joseph Schumpeter and the latter a student of Alvin Hansen, both represent important branches in the long lineage of 20th century Continental and U.S. monetary thought, respectively. In doing so, this talk also outlines key elements of a research agenda that reengages with regional aspects of money and credit, casting them as central pillars of a Lösch-Isard synthesis.

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