Business History Conference 1
An index is a measure of an economy and how it changes over time that uses a set of commodities (often stocks) as an estimate of the size and trend of the entire economy. This panel presents economic and cultural histories of unusual indexes. They are not computed from the values of a set of stocks and bonds, but from everyday objects--skirts, skyscrapers, etc. In this roundtable discussion, two specialists (economist Jason Barr and fashion historian Clara Berg) and a generalist (Adam Davidson of NPR's Planet Money and newly regular columnist in the New York Times Magazine) will discuss the origins of the hemline index, the skyscraper index and others, their accuracy in measuring and predicting changes in the economy, their popularity and cultural uses, and their relationship to more traditional indexes like the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Many panels submitted in recent years through the Business History Conference's Liaison Committee have put business historians in dialogue with business scholars from other disciplines, business journalists, and business people. This panel continues in that tradition.