It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that most of the world’s problems are directly caused by either:
A. A misunderstanding of economics
B. A misuse of economics
And yet, an understanding of economics seems to be incredibly rare, whether it’s a general understanding we all share or the deep understanding we expect from those in charge.
Academia probably has a lot to do with the poor state of economics. Certainly when I was studying the progression routes seemed to be either further academic obscurity or working for a bank; academic fame versus making money from money.
And yet, what we really need economists for is to bring an interconnected logic to the world; to use an understanding of scarcity, cause and effect, equilibrium for a more worthwhile purpose than making money for other people or looking clever.
And most importantly it would be great if some of that understanding became embedded in our culture, so that when we’re told a story about something in the press we can put it into context, maybe seek out the right information, relate it to other things.
How many of the worst periods in our history have exploited a lack of economic thinking? When we believe that the arrival of a few immigrants signals the collapse of our economy then something has gone very wrong.
I personally believe that economics is one of the best critical thinking subjects out there, and yet schools so often teach it as facts and figures, names and dates. We need people to come out of school able to take on the biggest issues we face, but we don’t seem to be doing much to make that happen.