What Is Post Crash Economics (and Why Should You Care)?

The Post Crash Economics Society (PCES) is a group of economics students who believe there is something missing from our education. Economics is a central issue in the modern world and yet what we are taught is disconnected from the economics we hear about every day: recessions, inequality, immigration, the NHS, austerity and the digital revolution. Instead of studying these crucial issues and the different perspectives on them, students only learn about the neoclassical school of thought. This means economics graduates are ill-equipped to deal with the problems faced by the world today, which is why PCES are campaigning for reforms to the curriculum so that it is more pluralistic, critical and connected to the real world. PCES set up in 2013 in response to the lack of change in the curriculum following the 2008 financial crisis. This crisis had caught economists, policymakers and politicians completely off guard, with the most widely used economic theories at the time unable to account for even the possibility of such an event. The effects of the crisis are still being felt today by everyone – economics students or otherwise – with GDP only recently having returned to its post-crisis level, 7 years on. Yet our education made little to no mention of the crisis and how it had happened, focusing instead on toy theories and repetitive mathematics. We realised that there was a problem with our economics education, not only in its failure to account for the crisis but also in its failure to address the kind of important economic issues we had expected an economics education to address. We produced a report outlining these problems in detail. Economics...

Guest Post: Economics Has Lost its Way

This is a guest post by Simon Ogus, founder and CEO of DSGAsia, a firm which provides independent Asian economic and political analysis. He has a PhD in economics  from SOAS and has been researching the economies and markets of the Asian region since the mid-1980s. Albert Einstein, a proper physicist if ever there was one, and certainly no social scientist with a bad case of physics envy, once remarked that: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” One might have thought that after decade upon decade of one-in-ten-thousand-year events occurring, ahem, rather more regularly than every ten millennia, the economics profession might be willing to display just a little more humility in questioning its increasingly quantitative foundations. But, then again, as Upton Sinclair wrote in “The Jungle”: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” The idea that the Queen raised that nobody saw the crash coming is, frankly, self-serving humbug from an academic, bureaucratic and conflicted private sector analytical cabal for whom such a claim is extremely convenient from a backside-covering perspective. Plenty of analysts did point out the madness of what was happening (or more accurately was being allowed to happen) but the more independently-minded were largely shouted down and accused of being cranks that just did not understand the beauty of the newest manifestations of finance. Après la deluge, the revisionist claim has been that, “apparently,” it was not that the models were wrong, but just that they just needed to be perfected; analogous to arguing that...

Myth Busting: Post Crash and the NSS

Myth busting: Post-Crash and the NSS A recently published article about the University of Manchester economics department’s declining National Student Survey (NSS) results has brought to the surface concerns among members of the university community about our actions last spring. We hope this blog post will go some way to addressing these concerns whilst also putting to rest any misunderstandings. What we actually did in March It was fairly widely reported that we were coordinating some sort of negative response to the NSS but what this actually was appears to have somewhat got lost along the way. What we didn’t publicly tell students to do was to give a negative response because we “just don’t like neoclassical economics”. We asked students to reflect on the changes they had or hadn’t seen in the curriculum. This is clear from the post on our Facebook page, where we stated: “…we are asking you to please wait before filling out your NSS until after the university has made its decision regarding Bubbles, Panics and Crashes…If it decides to accept this course as a module it will be demonstrating its dedication to its students…If it rejects this module the opposite will be true…We hope you agree.” It’s also important to highlight that the economics department also embarked upon a campaign to get students to fill out the NSS, whilst highlighting the changes they had made that year to improve student experience This was seen, for example, in the large banners in the Arthur Lewis building (UoM’s social sciences block) and the eleven tweets from the department’s feed. We were providing the other side...