February 27, 2012

How can we teach basic economics?

Economics is too important to be left to mathematicians.

In my years of formal education the subject of economics could be taken without advanced maths. To be sure, the student of "economics for gentlemen" was unlikely to become an expert econometrician, but could gain an understanding of basic themes of the subject.

That's important. How otherwise to understand statements such as
A study by BBVA of 173 cases of fiscal squeezes in OECD countries over the
last thirty years concluded that demands on Spain are almost unprecedented.
They found only four such cases, and three were offset by devaluations.
There is near unanimity across the political spectrum that drastic
pro-cyclical tightening at this stage is unwarranted and dangerous. 
If you can't understand this, you can't understand some of the basics of the eurozone crisis.

Yet economics as a school subject is being captured by maths. That may be essential for a specialist economist. But how can you understand modern government if you're not familiar with basic economic concepts?

How is modern education equipping students with such understanding?


WitteringsfromWitney said...

Or more to the point, what is it that politicians do not understand about the basic premise that you cannot spend that which you do not have?

And what politicians 'have' actually is not theirs - but ours?

Is there not an undeniable reason why we should not have 'referism'? Or come to that, direct democracy?

just asking........

Nice post, by the way - and to the point, as usual!

John Page said...

Thanks. I'm concerned that making economics specialist will militate against creating an informed citizenry.

Economic ignorance among politicians costs a lot of taxpayers' money (you're absolutely right, there's no such thing as government money). But then their apparently incurable vanity costs us a lot of money too.

Don't get me started ....

Anonymous said...

I have no formal eccomics training but I understood the quotes;

"Spain you have no chance of getting better within the Euro. Go bust and get it over with."

By a plumber.