Advice on masters program to apply for

I’m a professional with a 25+ year career as a chartered accountant in commercial settings and want to transition careers into economic policy, & the most sensible path into that seems to be by going back to university & getting a masters & potentially a PhD.

I was taught the same as the current crop of policy makers & after decades of practical experience can can see where it’s not working.

As part of that journey, I did the summer school at LSE this year (I’m Aussie, so 3 months in London & Europe was also just fun) to see if going back to university for further study is a good idea. It is. I enjoyed the mind stretch of the academic process and also did well in the two subjects I signed up for.

One of them was macroeconomics. The thing that stood out was what hasn’t changed since the last time I studied this in the early 90’s. They were still teaching classical industrial capitalism, even though their bookshop is full of titles about a post industrial world and the fall of capitalism.

Hence I started reading Doughnut Economics.

It is still my intention to apply for a masters, however need some advice on which program is going to be useful in starting to work around some of the current entrenched thinking in academia & create a pathway. Anyone who’d be prepared for a 1:1 chat (need to manage timezones but that’s ok), I’d love to hear from you! All advice much appreciated.

Thanks
Rachel

Good question am sure @rachelcwhite

I’m not an economist but am well aware of the limitations of economics teaching that has us all in the state we are in…

What I do know about is that Rethinking Economics movement is trying to address some of the issues you have outlined and it may be worth connecting with them.

You’ll also be interested in this story and these theses
https://neweconomics.opendemocracy.net/33-theses-economics-reformation/

http://www.newweather.org/2017/12/12/the-new-reformation-33-theses-for-an-economics-reformation/

Of course @kateraworth could/should is afaik involved in lobbying for this change so we should expect to see a Masters in Economics influenced strongly by Doughnut Economics emerging soon, the Q is where & when

Hope that helps
Tony

Hi Tony

It’s lovely to e-meet you. Thanks for reaching out.

I joined a protestant church in 2014 and have truly valued both the community and intellectual rigour. Much of which was based in the Reformation. It is an event much talked of, hence what you say resonates of those events 500 years ago, and the parallels to today.

I’m also someone the same organisation would have happily burned at the stake 400 years ago as a witch. Being a heretic is substantially less dangerous in this day and age for which I’m very grateful, and hence am exploring the best pathways which, at the end of the day, will create real change. Even if it’s not in my working life time.

My Dad was an English literature major who was an ordained minister, he walked away from religion in the late 60’s. When I was studying economics at high school in the late 80’s, what I was being taught made no sense to him and in many respects it was his insight that allowed me to recognise the religious level dogma when the GFC hit in 2008 / 2009.

Connecting in with like minded people is my goal. I’m in Australia which is a long, long way away so that is a factor. Applying to study serves an additional purpose of dealing with the “tyranny of distance” as we call it.

I can’t see that Masters program getting up any time soon - I can assure you the economics faculty at LSE did not even acknowledge the existence of those 33 Theses. I doubt they would be able to do so given how far their identities are tied up in the current frame. Watching it was incredible. I do feel for the vast majority of the class who were undergrads who would not have had the tools I did to spot it, being several more decades of life experience.

I had an excellent conversation with the behavioural sciences admissions team and think that may be the best place to start. I have personal interest in psychology, I have applied it in my freelancing work, it was something I learned through personal experience vs professional career, which may augment my application.

Small steps. Thanks again

Cheers
Rachel

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Hi Rachel, I also have difficulty in the way our knowledge about the Macro-Economics Social System (or MESS) is supposed to work. In fact i became so disappointed with the regular textbooks that i decided to re-work the whole thing by writing one of my own. The following essay is how I managed to make our subject more logical and simpler to understand.
Today macroeconomics is treated as an inexact subject within the humanities, because at a first look it appears to be a very complex and easily confused matter. But this attitude does not give it fair justice–we should be trying to find a better way to approach and examine the topic, in a better way that avoids these problems of complexity and confusion. Suppose we ask ourselves the question: “how many different KINDS of financial transactions occur within our society?” Then the simple and direct answer shows that that only a limited number of them are possible.

Although our sociological system comprises of many millions of participants, to answer this question properly we should be ready to consider the aggregates of all the various kinds of functions (no matter who performs them), and then to idealize these activities so that they fall into some more general terms, expressing the different types of sociological transactions into what becomes a relatively small number. Here, each activity is found to apply between a particular pair of agents or entities—with each entity having its individual properties. Then to cover the whole sociological system of a country, the author finds that it takes only 19 kinds of flows of money for the mutual activity in the transfer of goods, services, access rights, taxes, credit, investment, use of valuable legal documents, etc. Also these flows pass between only 6 different representative agents or entities.

The analysis that led to this initially unexpected result was prepared by the author and it may be found in his working paper (on the internet) as SSRN 2865571 “Einstein’s Criterion Applied to Logical Macroeconomics Modeling”. In this model these double flows of money verses goods, etc., are shown to pass between only 6 kinds of role-playing entities. Of course, there are a number of different configurations that are possible for this type of simplification, but if one tries to eliminate all the unnecessary complications and sticks to the more basic activities, then these particular quantities and flows provide the most concise result, and yet it is presentable in a fully comprehensive seamless manner that is suitable for further analysis.

Surprisingly, past representation of our sociological system by this kind of an interpretation model has not been properly examined nor even presented before. Previously, other partial versions have been modeled (using 4 entities, as by Professor Hudson), but they are inexact due to either their being over-simplified. Alternatively, in the case of econometrics, the representations are far too complicated and almost impossible to follow. These two reasons of over-simplification and over-complexity are why there is this non-scientific confusion by many economists and their failure to obtain a good understanding about how the whole system works.

The model being described here in this paper is unique, in being the first to include, along with some additional aspects, all the 3 factors of production, of Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” book of 1776. These factors of production are Land, Labor and Capital and along with their returns of Ground-Rent, Wages and Interest/Dividends, respectively. All of them are all included in this presentation diagram.

(Economics’ historians will recall, as originally explained by Adam Smith and David Ricardo, the prescribed independent functions of landlords and capitalists. The former persons rent and speculate in land values whilst the latter are owners of the durable capital goods in industry, which may be hired out. Regrettably these different functions were deliberately combined for political reasons, by John Bates Clark and company about 1900, resulting in the neglect of their different influences on our sociological system.)

The diagram of this model is in my paper (noted above). A mention of the related teaching process is also provided in my short working SSRN 2600103 “A Mechanical Model for Teaching Macroeconomics”. With this model in its different forms, the various parts and activities of the Big Picture of our sociological system can be properly identified and defined. Subsequently by analysis, the way our sociological system works can then be properly calculated and illustrated.

This analysis is introduced by the mathematics and logic that was devised by Nobel Laureate Wassiley W. Leontief, when he invented the important “Input-Output” matrix methodology (that he applied it to the production sector only). This short-hand method of modeling the whole system replaces the above-mentioned block-and-flow diagram. It enables one to really get to grips with what is going-on within our sociological system. Subsequently it will be found that it is the topology of the matrix which actually provides the key to this. The logic and math is not hard and is suitable for high-school students, who have been shown the basic properties of square matrices.

By this technique it is comparatively easy to introduce a change to a pre-set sociological system that is theoretically in equilibrium (even though we know that this ideal is never actually attained–it being a convenient way to begin the study). This change will then create an imbalance and we need to regain equilibrium again. Thus, sudden changes or policy decisions may be simulated and the effects of them determined, which will point the way to what policy is best. In my book about it, (see below) 3 changes associated with taxation are investigated in hand-worked numerical examples. In fact when I first worked it out, the irrefutable logical results were a surprise, even to me!

Developments of these ideas about making our subject more truly scientific (thereby avoiding the past pseudo-science being taught at universities), may be found in my recent book: “Consequential Macroeconomics—Rationalizing About How Our Social System Works”. Please write to me at chesterdh@hotmail.com for a free e-copy of this 310 page book and for additional information.

Hi David

Thanks for your comprehensive note. That’s an interesting approach.

The question I’d have on focusing on the kinds of financial transactions is while there’s a lot more data available, and I agree it would make it possible to analyse the data in ways that bring to light some of the patterns you mention (such as “crunch” points in the system), it may miss what motivates someone to enter into that transaction in the first place. That’s not to say it’s the wrong approach. The collection and analysis of the data inherent in what you’re describing will throw up insights that will be extremely valuable.

What is their intent? Why do they value this thing (whatever it is) and the method of interacting with it via the transaction flows that you mention. Who are they? That’s individuals, collective groups of people (in whatever way they come together), companies & nations.

Why does that matter? If you want to understand what a person or group of people values, take a look at their bank account (hypothetically of course, given this is considered private information). How do they deploy their available resources? Into what? How do they make those choices? And how do those choices interact with the systems we’re starting to work with?

How does a change in values change those systems? If we understand that, it’ll make those systems a lot more resilient.

In terms of the inputs to production, being land, capital and labour, I’m familiar with those and their historical development. I’ve spent the last 10 years working with early stage technology ventures and have come to appreciate the disruption cycle inherent to innovation. Technology has been viewed to date as something that improves the productivity of those inputs. I do wonder at what point it becomes an input itself, with its own set of behaviours.

We are at the very beginnings of technological transformation (easy to say, I’m doing so from the benefit of a box seat for the last 10 years) and it could be understanding the behaviour of technology with the other inputs may be what allows us to build that resilience into the systems being designed that’s been missing so far.

I’m still reading Kate’s book and am appreciating her view of moving from a mechanistic world to one that mirrors the natural world. I particularly appreciated the Sir Isaac Newton analogy - instead of “why did the apple fall”, ask instead “why does it grow”.

We would not have reached where we are today if Sir Isaac Newton had not asked the question we did. It was a very necessary step on the journey. But I do agree with Kate that it’s time for new questions.

Thanks again for reaching out, very much appreciated

Cheers

Rachel