Angela Redish

Professor
Provost and Vice President Academic pro tem
C.D. Howe Institute, Research Fellow

I received my PhD from the University of Western Ontario and have been a Professor of Economics in the Faculty of Arts at UBC since then. My teaching and research have focused on the history of monetary and banking systems in Europe and North America European and North American monetary and banking systems. In 2000-2001 I served as Special Advisor at the Bank of Canada.

From 2001 to 2006 I was Head of the Department of Economics, and then served as senior advisor to UBC President Toope. From 2012 to 2015 I was Vice Provost and AVP at UBC. Since 2015, I serve as UBC’s Provost and Vice President Academic pro tem.

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WORKING PAPERS

The financial crisis of 2008 engulfed the banking system of the United States and many large European countries. Canada was a notable exception. In this paper we argue that the structure of financial systems is path dependent. The relative stability of the Canadian banks in the recent crisis compared to the United States in our view reflected the original institutional foundations laid in place in the early 19th century in the two countries. The Canadian concentrated banking system that had evolved by the end of the twentieth century had absorbed the key sources of systemic risk -- the mortgage market and investment banking -- and was tightly regulated by one overarching regulator. In contrast the relatively weak, fragmented, and crisis prone U.S. banking system that had evolved since the early nineteenth century, led to the rise of securities markets, investment banks and money market mutual funds (the shadow banking system) combined with multiple competing regulatory authorities. The consequence was that the systemic risk that led to the crisis of 2007-2008 was not contained.

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We construct a random matching model of a monetary economy with commodity money in the form of potentially different types of silver coins that are distinguishable by the quantity of metal they contain. The quantity of silver in the economy is assumed to be fixed, but agents can mint and melt coins. Coins yield no utility, but can be traded. Uncoined silver yields direct utility to the holder. We find that optimal coin size increases with the probability of trade and with the stock of silver. We use these predictions of our model to analyze the coinage decisions of the monetary authorities in medieval Venice and England. Our model provides theoretical support for the view that decisions about coin sizes and types during the medieval period reflected a desire to improve the economic welfare of the general population, not just the desire for seigniorage revenue.

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