A level Economics Conference - 2016

 Econ 618

Every year, the economics department attends the annual “PolEconUK” conference in the City of London, home to the world’s largest financial institutions.

This meeting brings together the UK’s leading economic thinkers, including politicians, journalists, analysts and commentators and is an opportunity for us to witness first-hand how our learning in the classroom can be applied to the real world.

Tim Harford started the day with a fascinating account of the life of Bill Phillips who, from fixing a broken Jeep at the age of 14, ended up being made a Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics (LSE) on the back of inventing his revolutionary ‘Phillips machine’, which models the economy using liquid to represent cash flow.

He is also known for the Expectation Augmented Phillips Curve, which he supposedly developed over a weekend, and models the inverse relationship between inflation and unemployment – a previously unseen link.

The next speaker was John McDonnell MP, Shadow Chancellor, who gave an impassioned exposition of socialist economic theory. While his delivery was powerful and his thoughts persuasive, the following speaker, David Gauke MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury countered this forcefully. Gauke explained the dire need for deficit reduction and consequent Conservative party policy, to prevent uncontrollable debt increases.  

Other speakers included analysts from the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, the Institute of Fiscal Studies and the Institute of Economic Affairs. These presenters focused primarily on the consequences of Brexit, the prospect of either a hard or a soft exit from the Eurozone, and principally emphasised the uncertainty surrounding the future the UK following the June Referendum.

We found the IFS lecturer, Carl Emmerson, particularly inspirational as he was only 23 – just a few years older than many of us. The day drew to a conclusion with an enlightened talk from Hugh Pym, Health Editor to the BBC, formerly Economics editor. He was an excellent communicator and focused on government spending and how Brexit might impact upon the NHS.

It is an old adage that if you ask three economists the answer to a problem, they will give three different answers – well, in the post referendum climate, this is true more so than ever, as this day exemplified. But good fun and good education all-round!