William N. Goetzmann

Edwin J. Beinecke Professor of Finance and Management Studies
faculty director, International Center for Finance

William Goetzmann is the Edwin J. Beinecke Professor of Finance and Management Studies, the faculty director of the International Center for Finance and director of the SOM Executive MBA in Asset Management.

Goetzmann is a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and has served as the president of the Western Finance Association and the European Finance Association. He teaches courses in investments, real estate and financial history. He is an expert on financial markets and securities, investment strategies, investor behavior and financial history.

His published books include: Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible (Princeton University Press, 2016), The Great Mirror of Folly, Finance, Culture, and the Crash of 1720 ed.(Yale University Press, 2013), The Origins of Corporations: The Mills of Toulouse in the Middle Ages ed. (Yale Press, 2015), The Origins of Value: The Financial Innovations that Created the Modern Financial Markets (Oxford, 2005), The Equity Risk Premium: Essays and Explorations with Roger Ibbotson. (Oxford, 2006), Modern Portfolio Theory and Investment Analysis, with Elton, Gruber & Brown, (John Wiley and Sons, 2006 and following) and The West of the Imagination, with W.H. Goetzmann (Oklahoma University Press, 1986 & 2009).


Academic Vitae

Outside Activities, Consulting and Director Relationships

Published research and working papers available at SSRN

International Center For Finance at the Yale School of Management 

The mission of the ICF is to promote financial research and teaching.

Money Changes Everything

William N. Goetzmann, Princeton University Press, 2016

Money Changes Everything, argues that the development of finance has made the growth of civilizations possible. Finance is a peculiar technology developed by humankind that allows us to move value forwards and backwards through time. This innovation has changed the very way we think about and plan for the future. Finance was present at key moments in history: driving the invention of writing in ancient Mesopotamia, spurring the classical civilazations of Greece and Rome to become great empires, determining the rise and fall of dynasties in imperial China, and underwriting the trade expeditions which led Europeans to the New World. This book traces the development of finance from its most ancient origins up through modern times and links it to the broader evolution of complex societies.


Errata for Money Changes Everything 

The Great Mirror of Folly: Finance, Culture, and the Crash of 1720

William N. Goetzmann, Catherine Labio, K. Geert Rouwenhorst and Timothy Young (Editors), Robert Shiller (Foreword). Yale University Press, Yale Series in Economic and Financial History

My colleagues and I edited a volume about the first global financial crisis and the book that recorded it. The world’s first global stock market bubble suddenly burst in 1720, destroying the dreams and fortunes of speculators in London, Paris, and Amsterdam virtually overnight. Their folly and misfortune inspired the publication of an extraordinary Dutch collection of satirical prints, plays, poetry, commentary, and financial prospectuses entitled, Het groote Tafereel de Dwaasheid (The Great Mirror of Folly), a unique and lavish record of the financial crisis and its cultural dimensions. The current book adopts the title. It is a book about the book, a wide-ranging interdisciplinary collaboration that uncovers the meaning and influence of the Tafereel and the profound, lasting, and multifaceted impact of the crash of 1720 on European cultures and financial markets.


The Origins of Corporations: The Mills of Toulouse in the Middle Ages

Matthew Landry (translator) William N. Goetzmann (editor), Yale University Press, 2015

Germain Sicard proves that Europe’s first corporations were fourteenth-century mill companies operating in Toulouse, rather than seventeenth-century English and Dutch trading companies as commonly believed. He shows that the corporate form derives from a unique ownership contract from Medieval Europe called pariage, and a culture of strong property rights and municipal self-governance. Based on archival research, Sicard’s 1952 thesis has been translated into English with an introduction that places the work in the context of new institutional economics and legal theory. It is an important contribution to research on the history and legal origins of the corporation. Germain Sicard was a jurist and legal historian who served as Officer of General Affairs, Center for Historical Research, School of Practical Studies in France.


The Equity Risk Premium: Essays and Explorations

Roger Ibbotson and I have assembled our separate and co-authored research papers related to the equity risk premium into a volume. We have added additional new work and interpretive material.


The Origins of Value: the Financial Innovations that Created Modern Capital Markets Geert Rouwenhorst and I have edited a volume of essays for the International Center for Finance published by Oxford University Press. It contains chapters by leading historians and economists on key innovations in finance from earliest times to the present. It is based on a series of conferences on financial history at the International Center for Finance at the Yale School of Management. It draws significantly from the new History of Finance Collection, a joint venture between the Yale Beinecke Library and the Yale School of Management’s International Center for Finance. Find the book at Oxford University Press. Buy it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Hear the Marketplace Interview about The Origins of Value. Also, here are the reviews: The Times, Time Magazine, Financial Times, Barron’s The Best Books of 2005 Frankfurter Allgemeine, The Times Higher Education Supplement, Financial Innovation

The West of the Imagination The latest edition from Oklahoma University Press, 2009.

We have added several new chapters to our book. Additions include chapters on McKinney and Hall, The Land Artists, New Western Photographers and much more. The West as seen through the eyes of artists is the West of the imagination. This book is a comprehensive survey of the iconlogy of the Western Frontier in the popular and high arts in America.

Financial History at the International Center for Finance

The ICF has been constructing databases of individual security prices in global markets over the 19th and 20th centuries. These data are available for downloading at the ICF website. Now available:


Old New York Stock Exchange Project – contains monthly individual NYSE stock prices from 1816 to 1926 and annual dividend data for much of the same period. See: A New Historical Database For The NYSE 1815 To 1925: Performance And Predictability for a data description and some evidence on predictability.


London Stock Exchange Project – The Investors Monthly Manual contains a complete record of The London Exchange for the period from 1869 to 1930. Monthly individual securities data in spreadsheet form may be downloaded here. It includes corporate securities, sovereign and municipal debt from all over the world.


St. Petersburg Stock Exchange Project – Monthly data for all equities on the St. Petersburg Exchange, 1865 to 1917. Pdf files of hard copy in Russian are available.


Shanghai Stock Exchange Project – Monthly data for all equities on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, 1870 to 1940.


Great Mirror of Folly Data Project: The Global Financial Crisis of 1720 in London, Paris and the Netherlands: 1720. Geert Rouwenhorst, Rik Frehen and I have collected stock price and subscription data for the Dutch global markets in 1720, and additional data for the British markets. It is complementary to Larry Neal’s and Francois Velde’s data. Our working paper New Evidence on the First Financial Bubble is available on ssrn.


Global Stock Markets in the Twentieth Century. Philippe Jorion and I have collected a database of capital appreciation indexes for 39 markets going back to the 1920s. Readme file.

US dollar stock price appreciation indices #1/2US dollar stock price appreciation indices #2/2Real stock price appreciation indices #1/2Real stock price appreciation indices #2/2

An Introduction to Investment Theory

A hyper-text book for first-year MBA and MPPM students introducing the basic models of investment theory. Designed to be used in an eight-week first course in investments.

Henry Lowenfeld’s Investment and Exact Science published in Londonin 1909 developed the first complete theory of international diversification. It is worth reading to understand how British investors of the last century thought about risk. Right is the image Lowenfeld used to show the idea of co-movement within a single market. The book is out of copyright, so feel free to download it here. Thanks to Andrey Ukhov for rediscovering Lowenfeld’s pioneering work in Yale’s Mudd Library. Also by the same author: Investment Practically Considered, and All About Investment.
Michael Edelstein’s book Overseas Investment in the Age of High Imperialism is the first major study to use modern portfolio theory to examine the question of British overseas investment. His work is based on the construction of time series indices from the Investors Monthly Manual. He has generously made the data appendices from his book available for download through the website of the International Center for Finance at the Yale School of Management.

Galileo.s Financial Calculator

In 1606, Galileo published this guide to a calculation device of his own design called a geometric and military compass. Among the various uses of the device is the calculation of compound interest. The Institute and Museum of the History of Science in Florence has a full description of the tool. Click on the document at right for the complete text see operation VII.

Snow Spiral: An Environmental Project.
A Portfolio of Paintings of Egypt

Some paintings of classic Egypt views. Feel free to link them, but do not download, since they are copyrighted.

The Entemena Inscription in the Yale Babylonian Collection

is the oldest known example of compound interest calculation. It dates from about 2,500 BCE and commemorates the defeat of the city of Umma by the city of Lagash. Lagash claims reparations for decades of occupation of the agricultural land along the border. The reparations are calculated by compounding at 33 1/3 percent per year.

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