Dr Sean Vanatta

  • Lecturer in US Economic and Social History (Economic & Social History)

Biography

I write about and teach modern American history, with an emphasis on the political economy of finance. I received my Ph.D. from Princeton University in 2018. Before that, I took MA and undergraduate degrees at the University of Georgia.

Before joining the University of Glasgow in September 2020, I taught in the Gallatin School for Individualized Study at New York University and in Princeton University’s Writing Program. I have also held the National Endowment for the Humanities Hagley Postdoctoral Fellowship in Business, Culture, and Society and the John E. Rovensky Fellowship in US Business and Economic History.

I am currently working on several major projects, which collectively address the intersection of democracy, finance, and the regulatory state in modern America. 

My book manuscript, Plastic Capitalism: Credit Cards and the Political Economy of Modern America (Yale University Press, forthcoming), reevaluates the rise of finance in the post-World War II United States and, with it, the rise and fall of New Deal economic liberalism. Beginning in the 1950s, the book argues, profit-seeking bankers exploited American federalism to avoid consumer regulations, using credit cards to connect far-flung consumers with volatile, global capital markets, leading to the indebted nation we know today. 

With Peter Conti-Brown, I am also writing The Bankers Thumb: A History of Bank Supervision in the United StatesThe book examines bank supervision--the processes of continuous government oversight of the financial system--from its development in the 1830s to the Covid-19 pandemic. The book argues that official discretion, embodied in the constant choices government officers make among supervisory actions and justifications for acting, has been and should continute to be, the essence of financial oversight.  

Finally, as I complete these major book projects, I am also engaging in a number of other ventures. First, I have recently begun to examine how state employee pension plans, through their investment activities, helped reshap private financial markets and public welfare in the postwar United States. With Michael R. Glass, I develop some preliminary findings about New York State in an article forthcoming in Capitalism: A Journal of History and Economics. Second, I am deeply interested in financial justice movements, particulalry public banking. I have written, spoken about, and textified in favor of public banking in Maryland, and look forward to engaging with activists interested in these causes here in the UK.

Research interests

  • Financial institutions and markets
  • Financial regulation and supervision
  • Consumer politics and activism
  • Economic planning
  • Federalism
  • Pensions and retirement
  • Public infrastructure
  • The history of capitalism
  • Financialization
  • Economic thought

Publications

List by: Type | Date

Jump to: 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016
Number of items: 15.

2021

Conti-Brown, P. and Vanatta, S. H. (2021) The logic and legitimacy of bank supervision: the case of the bank holiday of 1933. Business History Review, 95(1), pp. 87-120. (doi: 10.1017/S0007680520000896)

Glass, M. R. and Vanatta, S. H. (2021) The frail bonds of liberalism: pensions, schools, and the unraveling of fiscal mutualism in postwar New York. Capitalism: A Journal of History and Economics, 2(2), pp. 427-472. (doi: 10.1353/cap.2021.0009)

2020

Vanatta, S. H. (2020) Histories of Bank Supervision. Bank Supervision: Past, Present, and Future, 11 Dec 2020. (Unpublished)

Vanatta, S. H. (2020) Automating Finance: Infrastructures, Engineers, and the Making of Electronic Markets. By Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2019. xvi + 357 pp. Illustrations, tables, appendix, bibliography, index. Cloth, $39.99. ISBN: 978-1-108-49642-1. Business History Review, 94(4), pp. 855-858. (doi: 10.1017/S0007680520000835)[Book Review]

Vanatta, S. H. and Pippenger, R. T. (2020) The gift. In: Creager, A. N.H. (ed.) Building on Stone: Perspectives on the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies at Fifty. Shelby Cullom Davis Center, Princeton University, pp. 7-13.

Vanatta, S. H. and Pippenger, R. T. (2020) "Let's Have at It": The Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies at Fifty. Davis Center for Historical Studies: Princeton, NJ.

2019

Vanatta, S. H. (2019) The Municipal Banking Movement: An Opportunity for Baltimore. Project Report. Abell Foundation, Baltimore, MD.

Vanatta, S. H. (2019) Market Rules: Bankers, Presidents, and the Origins of the Great Recession. ByMark H. Rose. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019. xiv + 258 pp. Notes, index. Cloth $39.95. ISBN: 978-0-8122-5102-9. Business History Review, 93(1), pp. 215-218. (doi: 10.1017/S0007680519000540)[Book Review]

2018

Vanatta, S. H. (2018) Brine, Kevin R. and Poovey, Mary, Finance in America: an unfinished story ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. Pp. x+499. 3 figs. ISBN 9780226502045 Hbk. $110). Economic History Review, 71(4), pp. 1438-1439. (doi: 10.1111/ehr.12809)[Book Review]

Vanatta, S. H. (2018) Charge account banking: a study of financial innovation in the 1950s. Enterprise and Society, 19(2), pp. 352-390. (doi: 10.1017/eso.2017.42)

Vanatta, S. H. (2018) Economics and capitalism—a historiographical survey. In: Podair, J. and Dochuk, D. (eds.) The Routledge History of the Twentieth-Century United States. Series: Routledge histories. Routledge: New York, pp. 104-115. ISBN 9781138892071

2017

Vanatta, S. H. (2017) Jumping the Abyss: Marriner S. Eccles and the New Deal, 1933–1940. By Mark Wayne Nelson. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2017. Pp xxvi, 424. $39.00, hardcover. Journal of Economic History, 77(4), pp. 1236-1238. (doi: 10.1017/S0022050717000936)[Book Review]

Vanatta, S. H. (2017) Executive stewardship of America’s credit card economy. In: Rose, M. H. and Biles, R. (eds.) The President and American Capitalism Since 1945. Series: Alan B. Larkin series on the American presidency. University Press of Florida: Gainesville, FL, pp. 188-206. ISBN 9780813056524

2016

Vanatta, S. H. (2016) Protecting plastic: credit card fraud in historical perspective. In: Bátiz-Lazo, B. and Efthymiou, L. (eds.) The Book of Payments: Historical and Contemporary Views on the Cashless Society. Palgrave Macmillan: London, pp. 167-176. ISBN 9781137602305 (doi:10.1057/978-1-137-60231-2_16)

Vanatta, S. H. (2016) Citibank, credit cards, and the local politics of national consumer finance, 1968-1991. Business History Review, 90(1), pp. 57-80. (doi: 10.1017/S0007680515001038)

This list was generated on Fri Sep 17 12:04:01 2021 BST.
Number of items: 15.

Articles

Conti-Brown, P. and Vanatta, S. H. (2021) The logic and legitimacy of bank supervision: the case of the bank holiday of 1933. Business History Review, 95(1), pp. 87-120. (doi: 10.1017/S0007680520000896)

Glass, M. R. and Vanatta, S. H. (2021) The frail bonds of liberalism: pensions, schools, and the unraveling of fiscal mutualism in postwar New York. Capitalism: A Journal of History and Economics, 2(2), pp. 427-472. (doi: 10.1353/cap.2021.0009)

Vanatta, S. H. (2018) Charge account banking: a study of financial innovation in the 1950s. Enterprise and Society, 19(2), pp. 352-390. (doi: 10.1017/eso.2017.42)

Vanatta, S. H. (2016) Citibank, credit cards, and the local politics of national consumer finance, 1968-1991. Business History Review, 90(1), pp. 57-80. (doi: 10.1017/S0007680515001038)

Books

Vanatta, S. H. and Pippenger, R. T. (2020) "Let's Have at It": The Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies at Fifty. Davis Center for Historical Studies: Princeton, NJ.

Book Sections

Vanatta, S. H. and Pippenger, R. T. (2020) The gift. In: Creager, A. N.H. (ed.) Building on Stone: Perspectives on the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies at Fifty. Shelby Cullom Davis Center, Princeton University, pp. 7-13.

Vanatta, S. H. (2018) Economics and capitalism—a historiographical survey. In: Podair, J. and Dochuk, D. (eds.) The Routledge History of the Twentieth-Century United States. Series: Routledge histories. Routledge: New York, pp. 104-115. ISBN 9781138892071

Vanatta, S. H. (2017) Executive stewardship of America’s credit card economy. In: Rose, M. H. and Biles, R. (eds.) The President and American Capitalism Since 1945. Series: Alan B. Larkin series on the American presidency. University Press of Florida: Gainesville, FL, pp. 188-206. ISBN 9780813056524

Vanatta, S. H. (2016) Protecting plastic: credit card fraud in historical perspective. In: Bátiz-Lazo, B. and Efthymiou, L. (eds.) The Book of Payments: Historical and Contemporary Views on the Cashless Society. Palgrave Macmillan: London, pp. 167-176. ISBN 9781137602305 (doi:10.1057/978-1-137-60231-2_16)

Book Reviews

Vanatta, S. H. (2020) Automating Finance: Infrastructures, Engineers, and the Making of Electronic Markets. By Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2019. xvi + 357 pp. Illustrations, tables, appendix, bibliography, index. Cloth, $39.99. ISBN: 978-1-108-49642-1. Business History Review, 94(4), pp. 855-858. (doi: 10.1017/S0007680520000835)[Book Review]

Vanatta, S. H. (2019) Market Rules: Bankers, Presidents, and the Origins of the Great Recession. ByMark H. Rose. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019. xiv + 258 pp. Notes, index. Cloth $39.95. ISBN: 978-0-8122-5102-9. Business History Review, 93(1), pp. 215-218. (doi: 10.1017/S0007680519000540)[Book Review]

Vanatta, S. H. (2018) Brine, Kevin R. and Poovey, Mary, Finance in America: an unfinished story ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. Pp. x+499. 3 figs. ISBN 9780226502045 Hbk. $110). Economic History Review, 71(4), pp. 1438-1439. (doi: 10.1111/ehr.12809)[Book Review]

Vanatta, S. H. (2017) Jumping the Abyss: Marriner S. Eccles and the New Deal, 1933–1940. By Mark Wayne Nelson. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2017. Pp xxvi, 424. $39.00, hardcover. Journal of Economic History, 77(4), pp. 1236-1238. (doi: 10.1017/S0022050717000936)[Book Review]

Research Reports or Papers

Vanatta, S. H. (2019) The Municipal Banking Movement: An Opportunity for Baltimore. Project Report. Abell Foundation, Baltimore, MD.

Conference or Workshop Item

Vanatta, S. H. (2020) Histories of Bank Supervision. Bank Supervision: Past, Present, and Future, 11 Dec 2020. (Unpublished)

This list was generated on Fri Sep 17 12:04:01 2021 BST.

Supervision

I would be excited to supervise research that focuses on modern American history, financial history, business history, or the history of capitalism--broadly defined. 

Teaching

Course Contribution 

Economic and Social History 1A and 1B

Researching Economic and Social History 1

Researching Economic and Social History 2

Honours module convening

Money and Finance in United States Society (to begin spring 2022)

Masters module convening

Globalization of International Banking and Finance (to begin Fall 2021)

Contributions to masters modules

The Globalized Economy

Business in the Global Economy