Henry Thornton Lecture Series

The Henry Thornton Lecture was inaugurated in 1979 in the belief that no student of money and banking should be unfamiliar with the name and work of this 19th Century economist and banker. Renowned for a dozen different insights into the British monetary system during the Napoleonic era, Henry Thornton is best known for his one book, An Inquiry into the Nature and Effects of the Paper Credit of Great Britain (1802). Over the past quarter of a century the focus for this lecture has been monetary theory and monetary policy, whereas in 2006 there was a departure into the finance arena. However, the series retains both his name and, through its future contributors, continues the width of comprehension and analytical power so associated with Henry Thornton.

Henry Thornton Lecture 2023: "Do index funds benefit society?"

  • with Professor Martin Schmalz on Wednesday 24th May 2023

Professor Martin Schmalz will deliver this year's Henry Thornton Lecture which is titled "Do index funds benefit society?"

Index funds have reduced the cost of diversification and thus helped to democratise investment. What's not to like? This lecture delineates recent research indicating side effects and equilibrium effects of indexing. Side effects include concerns about governance and competition of portfolio firms, which may help explain the secular decline in productivity and other macroeconomic trends. Equilibrium effects refer to the idea that increased stock market participation drives up equity prices and thus reduces expected returns, which harms investor welfare. As a result, the tally of winners and losers of one of the most successful innovations in finance may look quite different than previously assumed.

Professor Martin Schmalz

Professor Martin SchmalzMartin Schmalz is Professor of Finance and Economics, Head of the Finance, Accounting, Management, and Economics Area, Academic Director of the Blockchain Strategy Programme, and co-director of the Open Banking & AI in Finance Programme at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School. Before joining Oxford with tenure, he was Assistant Professor of Finance at the University of Michigan, USA.

He co-authored “The Business of Big Data: How to Create Lasting Value in the Age of AI”, and was featured as one of the “40 under 40” best business school professors worldwide at the age of 33. He was invited to present to regulators and policy makers across the globe, including the US Department of Justice, The White House Council of Economic Advisers, European Commission, European Parliament, OECD, various central banks, and at universities across America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

His prize-winning research focuses on corporate governance and asset management. It has been published in the Journal of Political Economy, Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Economics, and Review of Financial Studies, and was covered, among others, by The New York Times, The Economist, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Bloomberg, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Forbes, Fortune, Handelsblatt, and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

He holds a graduate degree (Dipl.-Ing.) in mechanical engineering from the Universität Stuttgart (Germany) and a M.A. and PhD in Economics from Princeton University (USA).


The Henry Thornton Lecture was delivered by Professor Atif Mian, Professor of Economics, Public Policy and Finance at Princeton University, at Bayes Business School on the evening of Wednesday 11 May. Read more about this year's Henry Thornton Lecture.

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Below is a list of past Henry Thornton Lectures that have been held at the Business School.

Past lectures


  • 'The Prospects for an International Monetary System'
    Rt Hon Gordon Richardson
  • 'A Century of British Market Interest Rates, 1874-1975'
    Dr Anna J. Schwartz (NBER).


  • 'Turbulence in the Foreign Exchange Markets and Macroeconomic Policies'
    Professor Jacob A. Frenkel
  • 'Macroeconomics after a Decade of Rational Expectations: Some Critical Issues'
    Professor Bennett T. McCallum
  • 'The Uncertain Future of Monetary Policy'
    Professor Phillip Cagan
  • 'Inflation Expectations: from Adaptive to Rational'
    Professor Michael Parkin
  • 'The Disarray in Macroeconomics'
    Professor Karl Brunner
  • 'Ricardo and Budget Deficits'
    Professor Robert J. Barro
  • 'The Political Economy of International Organisations in International Money and Finance'
    Professor Roland Vaubel
  • 'Speculative Booms and Crashes'
    Professor Robert J Shiller
  • 'Central Banking Tasks in a European Monetary Union'
    Professor Niels Thygesen.


  • 'Wage and Price Stickiness in Macroeconomics: An Historical Perspective'
    Professor David Laidler
  • 'The Lender of Last Resort: Pushing the Doctrine Too Far?'
    Professor Charles P. Kindleberger
  • 'Conduct of Monetary Policy in an Open Economy'
    Professor Helmut Schlesinger
  • 'The Triumph of Paper Credit: Price Stability in a Paper Currency World'
    Dr Michael Mussa
  • 'Central Bank Independence and Monetary Stability'
    Professor Otmar Issing
  • 'What Does the Current Account Tell Us?'
    Professor Max Corden
  • 'Regulating Financial Markets: A Critique and Some Proposals'
    Professor George Benston
  • 'Why Regulate?'
    Mr Howard Davies, Chairman FSA
  • 'Expectations'
    William Poole, President and CEO Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis.


  • 'The Thornton Effect: Monetary Instability Arising from Big War
    Professor Robert Mundell
  • 'Exchange Rate Regime Choice in Historical Perspective'
    Professor Michael Bordo
  • 'Global Imbalances and the Lessons from Bretton Woods'
    Barry Eichengreen
  • 'Corporate default risk and its pricing. What are we missing?'
    Professor Darrell Duffie
  • 'Are Banks Still Special?'
    Professor Anthony Saunders
  • 'Effective Monetary Policy in a Low Interest Rate Environment'
    James Bullard, President and CEO Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis.


  • 'Monetary Policy and the Behaviour of Banks: Lessons from the 1930s for the 2010s'
    Professor Charles Calomiris, Columbia University
  • 'Finance: economic lifeblood or toxin?'
    Professor Marco Pagano.