economists slamdance harder than you
Last Tuesday night, around 1000 people queued around the block at the London School at Economicsto attend a Radio 4 debate about the ideas of John Maynard Keynes and Freidrich August von Hayek. In the 1930s, these two giants of economic thought advocated sharply contrasting responses to the Great Depression: Keynes argued for more state intervention and Hayek for a more free market approach. "I didn't know so many young people think economists are like rock stars," said the event's producer Daniel Tetlow.
So, what on earth is going on? Well here's my theory. If you are a 6th former or a university student, the financial crisis of 2008 is probably the defining event of your politically conscious life. Understanding how we got into the financial mess we are in, and how to get out of it, is more than an issue of intellectual curiosity for that generation.
The effects of the economic downturn are being felt more acutely by the young than they are by the typical Radio 4 listener (average age 55 and likely to have paid off the mortgage). And if last week's debate is anything to go by, the youth are demanding a return to some older and more radical thinking.