The first ever Festival for New Economic Thinking took place between October 18-20th 2017 in Edinburgh, and what a fantastic event it was! From workshops, to Nobel laureate keynotes, to group discussion groups, to virtual reality representations of inequality, the Festival really summed up the exciting position the New Economics movement is at the moment.
Organised by Rethinking Economics, INET’s Young Scholars Initiative (YSI), the German Netzwerk’s Exploring Economics, The Minsky’s and the History of Economic Thought site, The Festival kicked off on Wednesday 18th October 2017, with a few ‘pre-festival’ sessions. This included workshops on Keynesian Economics for the 21st Century with Steven Fazzari and industrial policy and politics with Thomas Ferguson.
Thursday was the official beginning though, with over 50 workshops taking place that day alone. Apart from the 64 organisations, who each had a stall in the main hall, highlights included a ‘Help the OECD write the new Narrative’ workshop,led by the OECD’s Patrick Love. He presented the organisation’s draft report ‘Towards a New Narrative’ in which 20 experts explain what was wrong with the OECD’s methods and advice from 2003 to 2008 and beyond. Love suggested that the tools economists used, and the ways in which data was used, led to distrust in institutions, and requested comments and suggestions on the draft report.
Just after lunch there was an inciteful keynote by YSI academic Thomas Herndon, who famously found a string of errors in the academic paper that has justified austerity worldwide.
Our trustee Laurie Laybourn-Langton also launched his new report on the Thursday afternoon, co-written with IPPR Commission on Economic Justice director Michael Jacobs. The report, titled towards a ‘Moving Beyond Neoliberalism‘, is an important summary as to where the new economy movement is in the UK at the moment, and how this is part of a paradigm and narrative shift.
The day finished with a wonderful keynote by nobel prize winner Georg Arkelof, who ran us through the key themes on his research on asymmetric information. The day was also peppered with YSI workshops, Rethinking Economics workshops, and general group discussion.
The Friday was very much of the same ilk. Infectious energy from the thousand or so young people, hustle and bustle, new economy workshops, and of course chattering over vast amounts of coffee. Highlights included a tasty morning session on economic jargon, hosted by openDemocracy, with a panel made up of representatives from Rethinking Economics, Economy and the Financial Times. There were also workshops ran by IIPPE, RE groups from Norway, Turin, Netherlands (as well as central RE), the German Netzwerk, Reteaching Economics, and YSI.
Friday afternoon included a workshop on Mental Health and Economics with Rethinker Joe Earle, co-author of The Econocracy’. The discussion was themed around the need for psychology and economics to strengthen their communication channels, and was centred around austerity and increased private debt, and how that affects mental health and well-being. There were also jam-packed workshops with Kate Raworth and Steve Keen, both of which were overflowing into the main concourse! See below for a mini-interview conduced by our Goldsmiths group, NSE, with Keen.
The evening consisted of a spirited panel debate between RE’s Yuan Yang and Joe Earle, and INET’s Rob Johnson and Perry Mehrling on where the global new economics movement goes from here.
Overall, the Festival for New Economic Thinking was a huge success, with attendees from around the world coming together for the new economic movement.