Who needs experts?
In the run up to the EU referendum, the British politician Micheal Gove famously declared that he had had quite enough of experts. The British people agreed with him and Brexit became, in the words of Theresa May, Brexit. Economists were dismayed but were also immediately proved wrong, as the predicted instant recession failed to materialise and UK consumers kept on spending. Once again the dismal science was shown to be dismal and the Brexiteers celebrated their new found freedom with talk of opportunities and control.
One year on and the picture has changed considerably. The experts predicted that a weakened currency would lead to imported inflation and a wage squeeze and, surprise surprise, the UK is now seeing rising inflation and real wages are falling. The experts predicted that leaving the world`s richest trading bloc would be negative for business sentiment and, low and behold, investment is down and business confidence is falling. This, of course is the trouble with experts, they are often correct in their analysis and the Govian philosophy is proving to be nothing more than political rhetoric, albeit of a very persuasive and effective kind.
As the UK now negotiates its way out of the EU the need for experts has never been greater. The dismal science may be imprecise at times, but it is not immune to adapting and adjusting its models as history plays out. Brexit and the arrival of Trump have given economists much to discuss and the talk now is of irrational decision making as the consequences of 40 years of rampant globalisation and the free market ideology are felt in the flyover states and the towns of northern England.
All of this makes for a fine backdrop for those pupils who are lucky enough to have chosen to take on the challenge of A Level Economics. The new specification incorporates the traditional microeconomic models, but has been updated to include cutting edge thinking about consumer psychology, cognitive bias and the use of choice architecture to nudge decision making. The macroeconomics has also been revamped, with new sections looking at the financial crisis, the banking sector and the policy response to the credit crunch. In my humble opinion, the dismal science has never looked sexier.
It has been a year of change for the Economics Department at Runnymede. Joining any school as a new member of staff is daunting at the best of times, but I must say that staff and pupils could not have been more welcoming and helpful. The pupils in the Runnymede VIth Form are a credit to the School and I am very happy be teaching them.
The Department is growing, but the focus going forward remains to delight pupils by bringing the subject to life whilst giving them the ability to succeed in their final exams. Experts may be out of fashion in some walks of life, but fashion is fleeting whilst expertise is forever.