Monday, October 27, 2008

Return of the economist

I worked as an economist and policy adviser for the first part of my career. Later as a senior manager and strategic consultant, economics dropped back to simply part of my intellectual and management tool kit.

In the period since I first did economics, I have watched what I saw as the discipline's decline in the face of the inexorable rise of finance and financial analysis. Now economics is back.

I think the strength of economics lies not in its mathematical and quantitative aspects, but in the way its structure of thinking teaches one to ask questions, to analyse problems. In my view, and I accept that this is a prejudice, part of the reason for economics' decline lay in the way that the mathematical and quantitative elements came to dominate what had been a more broadly based discipline.

I would no longer claim to be a professional economist. I am too out of touch with recent developments in the profession. However, I am finding my core skills as an economist back in demand as I try to explain to myself and others some of the elements in the current economic turmoil. I am using the word economic rather than financial in this case because of the way that what was a financial crisis has spread to the real economy.

Today's post on my personal blog, Puzzles about the fall of the Aussie dollar - more economics 101, discusses the implications of the fall in value of the Australian dollar. Here I saw little point in trying to explain the reasons for the fall - markets are as markets do. I was more concerned to try to understand the implications of the fall.

There is nothing especially profound in my analysis. Think of it simply as an outline of some of the variables involved.

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