CES: The Uses and Abuses of the Political Economy of Speculation in 18th Century France


Wednesday, March 1, 2017, 12:15pm to 1:45pm


Adolphus Busch Hall, Hoffmann Room, 27 Kirkland Street, Cambridge

Visiting Scholars Seminar: New Research on Europe

Christine Zabel – Postdoctoral Faculty Member, University of Duisburg-Essen; Visiting Scholar, CES, Harvard University


This talk will discuss 17th and 18th century ideas of uncertainty and possible knowledge of future events. An ‘epistemology of the uncertain’ had emerged by the end of the 17th century. By the mid-18th century it had been applied to economics and finance and transformed into a 'political economy of speculation.' The talk will focus especially on the plans to reform the French trade regime with life-contingent contracts and on the introduction of life insurance into the French market.