Economics: No more Experts Anymore?

Since the Queen famously asked LSE economists ‘why no-one saw it coming’ after the 2008 Crash, economics has received a kicking from all sides. The students rebelled against their teachers; self-styled heterodox economists pointed out that many of them ‘had seen it coming’ but been ignored by the mainstream; and then Gove declared that ‘the public had had enough of experts’ when economists declared Brexit would be a disaster. The ESRC have even funded a research network to reinvent macro-economics involving many of those who might have done some of the kicking. Economics has been declared a discipline in crisis by many.

A common theme of calls for reform look for greater pluralism in economics ie legitimising space in economic academia for a greater range of economic schools of thought. Furthermore other disciplines such as sociology and anthropology are seen as possible sources of new insight. Behavioural economics has of course already drawn on psychology to great Nobel-prize-winning effect. One of the principle investigators of the new ESRC funded centre to rebuild macro-economics is a professor in Anthropology from the LSE.

But could this lead to those seeking to explain the economy having not two hands but multiple limbs providing any answer a politician requires? How does it address the reduction of trust in experts if they are seen to be even more at odds with no agreed answers? or do we have to recognise the model of experts handing down wisdom are now gone?

Are we looking for a new breed of academic who sees themselves less as an expert and more as a collaborator bring some understanding to a ‘team’ quest for knowledge that crosses disciplines and involves ‘ordinary people’?

After all surely the last 10 years have taught us that the economic is linked to the social and to the political in a complex, adapting system that is full of surprises.  Can any one person really claim to be an expert in all that?

We will confirm the venue in early September and inform those who have booked.


John Kay

John Kay is one of Britain’s leading economists. His work is centred on the relationships between economics, finance and business. His career has spanned academic … Read more

Ann Pettifor

Ann is Director of Policy Research in Macroeconomics (PRIME), and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Political Economy Research Centre of City University, London. Her … Read more

Alan Penn

Alan Penn is Professor of Architectural and Urban Computing and Dean of The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment at UCL. The Bartlett is the … Read more

Angus Armstrong

Angus is the Director of Rebuilding Macroeconomics Network at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR).  He was formerly a Managing Director at … Read more

Josh Ryan-Collins

Dr. Josh Ryan-Collinsis Head of Research at UCL’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, a new research and policy centre focussed on how the public … Read more

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UCL Lecture Hall (tbc), London,


September 11, 2018

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