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Wimbledon88

Did You Study Economics At School Or University?

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I have always been interested in Economics and I studied the subject at school and university. I went to the local comprehensive in Scotland and a (supposedly) top school of economics at a British university.

The teaching at school was very good. Our teachers basically told us what was what, explaining fractional reserve banking, the gold standard (I came away understanding it was the best system), money as debt and the current state of the economy (I can still remember the prices for crude oil at that time, mostly $18, will probably soon be experiencing deja vu!).

Then I got to university and it was a complete farce. It was all so wrong that it completely put me off Economics and I followed a different career, despite having an honours degree. In fact, it was only when I reached the honours course that we seemed to do anything relevant, like international finance.

The neo-Keynesian theories just did not make sense, without being able to fully understand why, because criticism did not come into it. The other business subjects were taught in an equally dire fashion (the first lesson in Accounting, which I had also done at school, was "why do we do the things we do?"... wtf??).

I wonder if anywhere there is a course in economics, online or whatever, which describes things the way they really are? Not just the Austrian approach, I mean more like the plain facts you get on the Keiser Report, but backed up with statistical evidence, not just their soundbites.

I would love to teach my own course to people, only I have been away from the subject for too long and, anyway, do not have all the facts and recent developments at my fingertips...

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I have a degree in Economics and then went on to teach it for 15 years before the recession. I left teaching to look after my children and witnessed the introduction of economic policies by governments that my past A-level students would have failed if they incorporated into their examination responses.

It's a fantastic subject to teach because it's so current. I do miss it!

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You could ask this group: Rethinking Economics.

(An interview (13m) with one of the founders: http://www.neweconomics.org/blog/entry/weekly-economics-podcast-rethinking-economics I don't know much about them, but it came to mind. NEF are a different group btw, with their own perspectives that aren't necessarily what you're after.)

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Both!

I think the best you can do is read widely and think critically. For the Austrian tradition maybe have a look at mises.org (you can find just about everything in the Mises-Rothbard tradition there), but I would suggest you seek out alternative perspectives as well. I'm not sure any other alternative school of thought has anything comparable (for example Modern Monetary Theory and Post Keynesian economics are worth looking into).

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I wonder if anywhere there is a course in economics, online or whatever, which describes things the way they really are?

If you found someone teaching that, how would you know they are right?

Economics, for all it would like to be, is not physics or chemistry making a detailed examination of some relatively fixed substrate which offers itself up for experimental manipulation and turns out to be mathematically predictable.

Economics is a set of tools to give us some insight into a complex, chaotic and highly unpredictable aspect of human behaviour. What will be taught at university level are ways of using those tools, their scope and limitations. If you do well you will come out able to be critical of data and theoretical accounts based on it. You won't be any nearer the "truth" because to all intents and purposes there isn't one. You wil end up better equipped to understand that your goal will be forever elusive. Anyone at university or any other level claiming to have a whole and objective view is deluded or lying.

Many economics students are unhappy about what is being taught on their courses. This is not just students being stroppy, they are realising that the orthodoxies that are being taught are becoming less and less relevant in a post-crash world. Those same orthodoxies looked like pretty good models (pretty good is about as good as it gets, and those nodels are now shot to pieces) fifteen years ago. Heres a google search to a number of articles disscussing it.

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=university+economics+student+protest&gws_rd=cr,ssl&ei=Bl8CVrHOGYm6aZ-vmEA

Lewis Carrol (a mathematician) may well have been right when he concluded that the Snark was a Boojum. If you're looking for certainty, steer well clear of economics.

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Wimbledon - Knowledge of the economy and economic history covers much of "describing the world as it is." Of course, theory and analysis needs to go further and this is where it is unlikely that one person or school will capture everything.

weirofhermiston - I think you are mistaken about economic models looking good about 15 years ago. The financial crash showed much of financial engineering (turning subprime mortgages into AAA bonds, effectively diversifying all risk) was flawed. But most economic theory is much less realistic - e.g. model the macroeconomy by assuming one agent, who lives forever, has a perfect knowledge of the model, perfect calculator. That's the state of modern macro and everyone always knew it was flawed.

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I studied Economics at Stanford University. Must say it was VERY dry and it was there that I realized just how messed up the system is. I recall the semester focused on Bonds and calculating yields, the formula for the 30 year doesn't actually work, it breaks halfway. The solution used by Economists is to take the middle part of the equation and alter the number which came out at 2.XXXXX to a round 3 so that the algorithm could continue generating a yield. Complete lunacy, I would describe Economics, at least at the Academic level, a religion based around Politicized Mathematics.

Edited by Renewed Investor

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No,no school I ever attended offered an economics lesson....didn't go to university too eager to start working and earning my own money....economics is a subject anyone interested can do by reading the appropriate books and talking/debating with interested others....no bias teachers required......everything you need to is out there, make your own mind up, though hearts, minds and opinions do change.

Edited by winkie

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I studied Economics at Stanford University. Must say it was VERY dry and it was there that I realized just how messed up the system is. I recall the semester focused on Bonds and calculating yields, the formula for the 30 year doesn't actually work, it breaks halfway. The solution used by Economists is to take the middle part of the equation and alter the number which came out at 2.XXXXX to a round 3 so that the algorithm could continue generating a yield. Complete lunacy, I would describe Economics, at least at the Academic level, a religion based around Politicized Mathematics.

I'd guess that was broken application rather than a broken 30y pricing formula. Bond maths is just deriving fair value using basic calculus with appreciation of the non-linearity of price/yield and optionality. I don't think any practitioner would call fair value or iterative yield an absolute when transacting demands further assumptions and preferences (hence a market). It's obviously at the core of economics but not really an economic-science-thing until interpreted as a model factor with particular social/behavioural/political influences, or in ignorance of those assumptions.

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