Is anyone else alarmed?

The 'tag line' in my sent emails reads "There is nothing more economically damaging that a set of beliefs lacking any underpinning in data, empiricism or common sense - any opinion asserted without evidence can be summarily dismissed without evidence. Matt McGee, Christopher Hitchens " My wife saw this on a recent trip to Ukraine. Gotta love a country that really hasn't arrived at the Political Correctness cliff! I have long since gaped in astonishment and dismay at the recent inclusion of ...

“They’re rioting in Africa….”

I grew up in what might be termed an 'old fashioned household' - another way of saying that much of what I call my personal tastes are in fact hand-me-downs from my parents. One example is my taste in music, which ranges from Ramstein and Metallica to Judy Henske and The Kingston Trio - the latter two from the 1960's. I have just received the pack of this year's exam papers (relax, none of the content will be published anywhere on ...

Final call

Well, you have a few days left and then you will be sitting in rows of other economists, clock ticking, stern invigilator pitter-pattering about...and you have a few hours during which to prove your worth as an economist. How lucky I was to have a school system, Swedish, with no external exams! I could never have done what we now ask of you - and I have often pointed out to my students what a terrible student I myself was. ...

Did I miss a memo? Let’s keep the ‘F-word’.

FAIL (intransitive verb); to fall short, to be unsuccessful Most of the people who know me have long since realised I don't do transitional material. I'm also not great at light conversation. I've been told of my tendency to go of on a (ranting) tangent on whatever subject has prodded me with a stick. So, I hope you're ready for a little random venting of spleen here, for there is a recent societal undercurrent that is increasingly sticking in my craw, ...

Read your textbook first

It has escaped none of my students that our subject is a 'composite' subject - including (but in no ways limited to!) mathematics, history, political science, statistics and...well, stories. I always try to get across that the ability to become a good economist rests on two foundations; 1. good solid understanding of basic concepts and terms, and; 2. skills such as underpinning arguments, finding flaws with economic reasoning and simply being clear in putting forward economic scenarios both verbally and ...

Is Economics a Science?

Robert J. Shiller is a Nobel Laureate in Economics and an Economics professor at Yale University, in an online article published in 2013 he addresses the vexed question as to whether Economics is a Science. Whilst acknowledging the limitations of his subject as a science readily enough he cannot bring himself to altogether abandon that label. Moreover, he almost seems more interested in highlighting the failures of other disciplines as sciences (chemistry, physics, politics, astronomy…) than to provide evidential support for ...

Being Human

This week I did something which I have rarely done in my many years of teaching; I asked students to spend a whole lesson watching a video. Each student was given a laptop and they were asked to put on their earphones (they always seem to have the latter available at the drop of a hat). They were told to go to Youtube and look for the film “Human” by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, and watch at least any five of the ...

Last minute…

I'm having an interesting day. One of the Picts (look this up) I customarily hang out with for after-school grap juice (fermented) apparently decided to yank me back to reality after a three-day weekend by way of a perky good morning note: Shades of Adam Smith Then it turns out (no, I don't read memos) that the IB2 crowd are off (and with any luck, home studying - god knows some of them need it) and the IB1 crowd is apparently spending ...

Extended essay start-up

At every school I've worked at, the English and business/economics departments have accounted for at least one third of all extended essay (EE) titles. It makes sense; these two disciplines lend themselves easily to the study of a very broad cross-section of society - not that I personally could say anything insightful about Moby Dick or Eric Blair. OK Leo, you may write in the subject of your choice.  This is always something of a problem for the business/economics departments, for two ...

Price discrimination online

Most of you students are pretty 'switched on' in terms of what we old people still marvel at; the Internet. You have never lived in a world without internet - which is pretty much what my dad said (he was born in 1928) to me about TV. No, relax, this is not going to be some sort of rant about taking things for granted or any sentence starting with "...young people today..." I am a big fan of technology and ...