April 2012: 1688 and the property rights mirage
Professor Eric Jones (Emeritus Professor of Economic Systems and Ideas, La Trobe University) argued against the widely-held view that the ‘Glorious Revolution’ is closely linked to the Industrial Revolution in England. Read the report of the seminar.
February 2012: What have we learned from post-communist transitions?
Dr Dalibor Roháč, Deputy Director of Economics at the Legatum Institute and Department of Political Economy at King’s College in London gave a paper on the 1st February to the Department of Economics and International Studies. Read the full report.
November 2011: Britain and the European Union
On 2 November, a very well attended seminar was given by Anthony Teasdale (Visiting Professor in Politics, University of Buckingham), Graham Bishop (author of The EU Fiscal Crisis: Forcing Euro zone political union in 2011? (2011)), Dr Olaf Cramme (director of Policy Network, an international think-tank based in London) and Warwick Lightfoot (author of Sorry, We Have No Money: Britain’s Economic Problem (2011)). Read Mr Malcolm Rees’ report.
October 2011: Saving the American dream
Bill Beach, Director of the Center for Data Analysis, The Heritage Foundation, Washington DC, gave a well attended seminar on 12 October. The ‘American Dream’ includes equality of opportunity, rewarding work and saving, and as a result community and individual prosperity. But in recent years, the American dream has faltered, mainly due to the growth of the government and advance of welfarism. In consequence, the spectre of debt hangs heavily over the younger generation and the opportunities once available to them are closing. Read Mr Malcolm Rees’ report.
October 2011: Professor Sir Alan Peacock
Professor Sir Alan Peacock, Chief Economic Adviser in the 70′s and former Vice-Chancellor, returned to Buckingham in early October for the first time in many years. Read the full report.
September 2011: Professor Len Shackleton joins the University
Len Shackleton is joining Buckingham as Professor of Economics. He has most recently been Dean of the Royal Docks Business School at the University of East London and prior to that was Dean of the Westminster Business School. He has also taught at Queen Mary, University of London and worked as an economist in the Civil Service. His research interests are primarily in labour economics. He has worked with many think tanks, most closely with the Institute of Economic Affairs, where he is an Economics Fellow. Professor Shackleton has over a hundred publications to his name and is a frequent commentator on TV and radio.
September 2011: Seminar given by Professor Mitsuhiko Iyoda
Professor Mitsuhiko Iyoda, Professor in the Faculty of Economics at Momoyama Gakuin (St Andrew’s) University, Japan and Visiting Professor in the Department of Economics and International Studies at the University of Buckingham, gave the last seminar of the Summer Term: Toward a High Quality of Life in the Mature Society. He argued that attempts to measure happiness or reported subjective wellbeing suggest they do rise with income. They may, however, not imply a more satisfied society. There are three important factors that affect the quality of life: education, market failures and the government. Read the full report.
July 2011: Professor Michael Jefferson
Visiting Professor Michael Jefferson attended the 2011 Vienna Energy Forum recently, organised by UNIDO, the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. A full note on the Forum’s proceedings, which included a ‘pre-launch’ of a 1300-page Global Energy Assessment due out in October, is available from Linda Waterman.
Professor Jefferson also recently attended a meeting on scenarios organised by Shell UK, and another organised by Prospect magazine under Chatham House rules attended by the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. These will help inform the Global Business course during the summer term.
Professor Jefferson will give a plenary paper on “Energy Efficiency and Sustainability” at the 44th Session of the Erice International Seminars on Planetary Emergencies, World Federation of Scientists, in Erice, Sicily, in August. The paper will be available to those attending the Global Business course.
May 2011: Spring newsletter
The Economics and International Studies Newsletter for Spring 2011, published in May, can be downloaded here, with news about people, conferences, publications and new programmes. (762 KB PDF download)
May 2011: New MA programmes launched
There are two new additions to the Department’s highly successful MA programmes in Global Affairs and Intelligence and Security. The new MAs are in Intelligence and Diplomacy and Global Affairs and Diplomacy. They aim to combine key aspects of the existing degrees with new courses in Diplomacy offered by Professors Richard Langhorne and David Armstrong, who both have substantial publications in this field as well as relevant practical experience. Like all our MA degrees, these are aimed at students seeking programmes that will assist them in securing careers in government Departments such as Foreign Affairs and Defence as well as international organisations and non-governmental organisations.
February 2011: Economics and International Studies Newsletter released
Download the latest departmental newsletter here and catch up with the latest from one of the University’s strongest and fastest-growing departments. (834 KB PDF download)
February 2011: Seminar by Professor Elaine Sternberg
Professor Sternberg, of the Centre for Ethics and Public Affairs, The Murphy Institute, New Orleans, and Senior Visiting Fellow at Buckingham, gave a seminar on Free Market Business Ethics and Human Rights on 2 February. Professor Sternberg questioned the now fashionable view of business ethics, the notion that businesses should serve ‘stakeholders’. She pointed out that there are many possible stakeholders, who can have divergent interests, and so make many different demands on a business. Stakeholder theory in practice promotes ethical confusion about the fundamental aims of any business. Read the full report.
December 2010: Public lecture by Dr Julian Richards
Young graduates have been applying to join the intelligence services in droves in recent years and one reason is that they are inspired by the TV programme Spooks, according to Dr Julian Richards, lecturer and deputy director of the University’s Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies. Speaking in the Concerts and Lectures series on Tuesday night on The Modern Trade of Intelligence: Opportunities and Challenges, he said that people who have been lured into MI5 or MI6 via a television programme were going to be somewhat disappointed. “Intelligence is like war, in the sense that it is boring 99% of the time, and exciting for the other 1% (although I sometimes wondered about that 1%)”, said Dr Richards, who used to work at GCHQ and is the author of The Art and Science of Intelligence Analysis (Oxford University Press). Speaking about the modern trade of intelligence, he said that spies needed to continue largely in secret. “The trick will be engendering public trust and support as they continue in their work.”
November 2010: Seminar by Professor Nicolaus Tideman
Professor Nicolaus Tideman, from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, is an old friend of the University of Buckingham. His association began in 1983 when he gave the first course in Legal Economics. Since then he has frequently visited us and often given seminar papers. Professor Tideman is taking a sabbatical year at present and giving seminars all over the world: Bangkok, Seoul, Munich, Paris, Warwick, the London School of Economics and Buckingham. In his seminar on The appropriate treatment of distribution in economics, Professor Tideman was concerned with recommending ‘good’ economic measures. He suggested a modified version of cost benefit analysis which gives special protection to those who ‘lose’ and to the poor. He proposed these classes of good: justice, which is required of us; decency, which we admire, and heroism, which amazes us. Justice urges us to allocate each person an equal share of the economic rent from the world’s natural resources. People might then move between political jurisdictions, to find circumstances that suited them, taking their own share of these natural resources with them. Everyone at the seminar was interested in his ideas for a better world, though some doubts were expressed about their practicality.
November 2010: Modelling science as a public good
Buckingham’s own Vice-Chancellor, Dr Terence Kealey, and Professor Martin Ricketts, Dean of the School of Humanities, gave a joint seminar in which they explained that science is generally seen as an example of a ‘public good’. Public goods are non-rival and non-excludable and therefore not expected to be produced in the absence of government funding. Historically, however, it is clear that substantial scientific research was undertaken before the era of major public funding and that the advent of large-scale public funding of science did not significantly increase long-term rates of economic growth. After a brief introduction by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ricketts presented a model in which science was treated as a contribution game of ‘pure coordination’ rather than as a prisoners’ dilemma. External benefits spilled over to contributors but not to non-contributors. The conclusions drawn were that the invisible college model suggests that the big problem for science is ‘critical mass’ rather than free riding. Historically this seems to have been addressed by the formation of scientific societies to reduce transactions costs. A ‘visible’ college can be seen as a necessary precursor to an eventual transformation into an invisible or extended college. Kick-starting the invisible college might suggest a role for government – but it is a role than has unfortunate connections with ‘infant industry’ ideas and the ‘big push’ theories of development economics that were popular in the 1950s. In general, they argued, science is better analysed as a network of economic agents subject to Marshallian external economies rather than as a public good.
November 2010: Seminar by Ruth Lea
The euro is not an economic subject, but a political one, according to Ruth Lea, director and economic adviser at the Arbuthnot Banking Group. Only in Britain is it seen as an economic issue. Ruth Lea, who is also a governor of the London School of Economics and was giving a seminar at the University on The future of the euro, explained the history of the currency and why the UK did not join. Some countries would have been better off if they had done the same. There are countries now “trapped in the nightmare of a Eurozone” from which they cannot wake, she said. The charts in her handout gave a good overview of the situation. Her view of the future of the Eurozone suggests that, if the countries in the Eurozone do not reach a 3% government deficit target, they will be mired in depression, recession and debt. Most countries in the Eurozone now have high levels of unemployment, and whether they remain in the euro or not may be decided on the streets. If the Eurozone had been confined to Germany, the Benelux countries, Austria and perhaps France it might have succeeded, but the present arrangement was virtually doomed from the beginning. In the ensuing discussion, most agreed with Ruth Lea that the UK, by avoiding the euro, had had a lucky (partial) escape from the property boom / bust experienced by Ireland and Spain.
August 2010: Seminar by Dr Stanislav Shmelev
Dr Stanislav Shmelev, Director of Environment Europe, Senior Researcher at the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford (2008-9) and Visiting Professor, University of Paris 9 (2009), introduced the core principles of the relatively new sub-discipline of ecological economics in a clear and accessible talk which provoked a lively discussion. Ecological economics is multidisciplinary in its approach and aims to analyse the economy as embedded in society and the natural environment. The journal Ecological Economics already has a greater research impact, measured in terms of citations, than Economic Journal. Taking an ecological approach to economics entails seeing a firm as an organism, interacting with other organisms, all of which use resources and emit flows of waste. This view of the economy immediately raises the issue of sustainability, judging economic performance in terms of health effects and the depreciation of natural capital rather than the growth of GDP. An array of methodologies including systems analysis, environmental accounting and input-output analysis is used to assess the sustainability of economic activity and to inform decision-making. The discussion of Dr Shmelev’s presentation focused on the decision-making process, in which ecological economics questions the role of the market as a instrument of resource allocation under conditions of scarsity, especially in relation to air quality, water quality, and biodiversity. Dr Shmelev defended the principle of democratic decision-making by national and supra-national government bodies, while discussants felt that this privileged political over economic processes.