Mapping the Future. A Euro-American History of Business Cycle Forecasting, 1920-1980

Prof. Dr. Alexander Nützenadel, Berlin (Principal Investigator)

Laetitia Lenel M.A., Berlin


The dissertation traces the global history of business cycle forecasting in the twentieth century, focusing on different forecasting tools established by economists and statisticians in the U.S. and Europe. Analyzing the making, the dissemination, the contestation, and, for some cases, the disappearance of these tools, the project investigates the efforts of economists to tackle the problem of future uncertainty throughout the twentieth century. The dissertation argues that the way economists formed expectations about the future changed fundamentally in this period, and that this change was not only an indicator, but also a factor in a fundamental transformation of economics, and, indeed, economic decision-making in the twentieth century.



Lenel, Laetitia (2021): The Hopeful Science. A Transatlantic History of Business Forecasting, 1920-1960, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin: Dissertation. 

Lenel, Laetitia: Gezeiten der Wirtschaft. Konjunkturprognosen und ihre Inszenierung, in: Geschichte der Gegenwart, 22.11.2020,

Lenel, Laetitia: Public and Scientific Uncertainty in the Time of COVID-19, History of Knowledge, May 13 2020,

Fritsche, Ulrich / Köster, Roman /Lenel, Laetitia (eds.), Futures Past. Economic Forcasting in the 20th and 21st Century, Berlin et al.: Peter Lang 2020.

Lenel, Laetitia (2018): Futurama. Business Forecasting and the Dynamics of Capitalism in the Interwar Period. Working Papers of the Priority Programme 1859 “Experience and Expectation. Historical Foundations of Economic Behaviour” No 3 (January), Berlin

Lenel, Laetitia: Mapping the Future. Business Forecasting and the Dynamics of Capitalism in the Interwar Period, in: Jahrbuch für Wirtschaftsgeschichte/Economic History Yearbook 59 (2/2018), pp. 377-413