Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pulling new rabbits out of the marco bag

In a matter of months, the focus and discussion of macro economists has done almost a 180 degree turn; peak oil talking-heads have taken a brake and fiscal stimulus is headed our way on Tuesday. What a perfect time to be teaching!

The first two teaching experiences I was able to use the textbook as a current/up-to-date source; the 'digging deeper' and 'focus boxes' fuelled our discussions of timely issues. Now, the text seems old and uninteresting. Two years ago this would have added a bit more work and cause some pain, but now, it is like wind in my sail.

Yes! I am happy to be teaching again! In the first lecture I told my class that I expected all of them to drop everything (other courses), take more economics courses and join us. Why? Because we will need their help! It seems that the global economy provided enough events in the past 6 months to keep a millions economists working for a career or two (example: here ).

A Brief History: In the throws of the depression, a member of the Canadian House of Commons stood-up and said: "What about these experts on the political economy, have they nothing to offer us? Nothing at all?" For decades, economists were held in lower social esteem. Then enter J.M. Keynes and crew, the social welfare state followed, and we slowly but surely gained some steam (every respectable company had a Chief Economist by 1972!). And then: Stagflation of the 1970s took hold. Economists were once again scrambling to find answers and once again we struggled to provide solutions to the economic ills.

Today: I have written recently that I think there has been a rise in economics's popularity but, once again, we are at risk of being put into the path of tomatoes and other like items if we cannot muster solutions. Now, the world is watching and we are banking on our tool kits to get us out of this!

After 18 years of expansion, the Canadian policy makers are being put to the test and it is exciting to be training young minds at such a time.