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This department of Econ Focus recounts milestones in history that have shaped the economy of the Fifth District and the nation.

Econ Focus, First/Second Quarter 2024

Over the course of the 20th century, tipping went from rare and reviled to an almost uniquely American custom. We still like to complain about it.

Econ Focus, Third Quarter 2023

The rise and fall of Gary, W.Va — and that of company towns across the country — mirrors the arc of the nation's economy.

Aayush Singh

Econ Focus, Second Quarter 2023

In his July 1832 veto message of the bill rechartering the Second Bank of the United States, President Andrew Jackson triggered the demise of America's second central bank with a stroke of his veto pen.

Econ Focus, First Quarter 2023

The modern mortgage is the result of a complicated history. Local, state, and national actors all competing for profits have existed alongside an increasingly active federal government seeking to make the benefits of homeownership accessible to more Americans.

Econ Focus, Fourth Quarter 2022

Maggie Lena Walker built the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank to last. When it opened its doors in Richmond's Jackson Ward district in 1903, Walker became the first Black woman to establish a bank in the United States.

John Mullin

Econ Focus, Third Quarter 2022

Malls have been a part of the American cultural and economic fabric for generations. How will they survive recessions, the rise of online shopping, and a pandemic?

Econ Focus, Second Quarter 2022

The Appalachian Regional Commission, created in the 1960s, became a model for regional economic development programs.

Econ Focus, First Quarter 2022

Federal job training programs have long enjoyed bipartisan support. Yet their emphasis has varied greatly across the years.

John Mullin

Econ Focus, Fourth Quarter 2021

His Pax Mongolica connected Europe and China, leading to exchanges of technology and culture.

John Mullin

Econ Focus, Second/Third Quarter 2021

The construction of the Interstate Highway System helped to develop the U.S. economy.

Econ Focus, First Quarter 2021

The policies were gradually phased out in many advanced and emerging economies. Will they come back?

John Mullin

Econ Focus, Fourth Quarter 2020

In just 10 years, between 1999 and 2009, North Carolina's furniture manufacturing industry lost more than half of its jobs.

John Mullin

Econ Focus, Second/Third Quarter 2020

Reston, Va., and Columbia, Md., were founded in the 1960s with similar visions for inclusive, connected communities.

Econ Focus, First Quarter 2020

During the Great Depression, communities banded together to bring electricity to America's farmland.

Econ Focus, Fourth Quarter 2019

Automated telephone switching eventually displaced the women at the switchboards. But they kept their jobs for decades after the technology arrived.

Econ Focus, Second/Third Quarter 2019

"Kit homes" from Sears and others were an affordable housing option

Econ Focus, First Quarter 2019

How war debts, states' rights, and a dinner table bargain created Washington, D.C.

Econ Focus, Fourth Quarter 2018

The Fifth District's automotive entrepreneurs eventually lost out to the forces of agglomeration

Econ Focus, Third Quarter 2018

Johns Hopkins put American higher education on the path to world domination

Karl Rhodes

Econ Focus, Second Quarter 2018

The transatlantic telegraph cable amounted to the information revolution of the day, tying global markets together in unprecedented ways

Helen Fessenden

Econ Focus, First Quarter 2018

From 1837 until the Civil War, currency issuance and banking were left to the states. Can this era offer lessons for today's cryptocurrency boom?

Helen Fessenden

Econ Focus, Fourth Quarter 2017

As a dominant local employer shrank and then closed, weakened public finances became part of the spiral

Anne A. Burnett, Raymond E. Owens III and Santiago Pinto

Econ Focus, Third Quarter 2017

Soul City, N.C., was a bold experiment in rural economic development and "Black capitalism" launched by McKissick Enterprises in 1969.

Econ Focus, Second Quarter 2017

The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1919 was a major social and economic shock

Econ Focus, First Quarter 2017

Poor and minority children disproportionately suffered the ravages of lead paint poisoning

Econ Focus, Third/Fourth Quarter 2016

Cyrus McCormick may not have invented the reaper, but he was the entrepreneur who made it successful

Karl Rhodes

Econ Focus, Second Quarter 2016

Winston-Salem is transforming its economy from tobacco to medical research

Econ Focus, First Quarter 2016

Printing money was off the table, so Uncle Sam rolled out new taxes and a new kind of bond that bypassed Wall Street

Richard Sutch

Econ Focus, Fourth Quarter 2015

The 1904 disaster was a turning point for U.S. fire prevention

Karl Rhodes

Econ Focus, Third Quarter 2015

Economists are looking at past mass migration waves to understand Europe's refugee surge

Helen Fessenden

Econ Focus, Second Quarter 2015

Turning dirt into gold on Hilton Head

Karl Rhodes

Econ Focus, Second Quarter 2015

Karl Rhodes

Econ Focus, First Quarter 2015

Policymakers concerned over the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may find a cautionary tale in the last time policymakers sought to reform the enterprises more than two decades ago

Helen Fessenden

Econ Focus, Fourth Quarter 2014

Internal combustion cars zoomed past electrics more than 100 years ago, but is the horseless road race really over?

Karl Rhodes

Econ Focus, Third Quarter 2014

British frontier policy threatened Colonial land speculation on the eve of the American Revolution

Karl Rhodes

Econ Focus, Second Quarter 2014

How the grocery industry coalesced behind the UPC bar code

Econ Focus, First Quarter 2014

Federal policies have fostered employment-based health insurance

Karl Rhodes

Index displays content through 2014. Earlier articles dating back to 2003 are available on our website in PDF form only.