Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Study Economics To Win Every Argument

by Girish Menon

Image result for emperor's new clothes
The Emperor's new clothes courtesy Cactus Records

Since 1992 when former US President Bill Clinton’s campaign manager coined the winning slogan, ‘It’s the economy, stupid!’ persuaders of all belief systems have been increasingly relying on economic arguments to win the debate. The Brexit vote and Trump’s election are recent examples of the success of an economic point of view to the detriment of all others. A student with a good A level in economics will be equipped to reason out the merits and demerits of each argument and defend her own belief system or prejudice.

The A Level syllabus

In the book The Econocracy three Manchester University students describe the irrelevance of their university’s economics syllabus, which failed to acknowledge and explain the financial crisis of 2008. On the other hand, the A level syllabus of the AQA board not only discusses the financial crisis of 2008 but also explores themes in behavioural economics, the fast emerging and highly popular area in modern economics..

In a nutshell an A level in economics is divided into two parts viz. Microeconomics and Macroeconomics. Microeconomics explores the theoretical utopia of a free market which is known as perfect competition and compares it with modern market phenomena like Monopoly, Oligopoly and Monopsony. Macroeconomics looks at the picture from a national point of view and explores themes like Inequality, Unemployment and Immigration, Economic Growth and Trade/Budget deficits. It also considers the tradeoffs that governments face as they try to resolve crises.

Am I suited for an Economics A Level Course?

Unlike economics courses at most universities which rely on a strong foundation in mathematics, an A level economics course is right for any student who has an A grade in Mathematics and English at the GCSE level. He should have a curiosity about the world he lives in, is able to think logically and must have a desire to debate issues based on evidence.

In short, an Economics A Level Course can combine well with the sciences, the arts, the languages as well as the humanities. You could do this A level especially when you wish to specialise in other subjects at the degree level.

What will I gain from doing the Economics A Level Course?

You will realise that there is no such thing as a free market. You will have heard politicians and other persuaders trying to praise the virtues of the free market. After doing an A level in Economics, you will understand the assumptions that underlie free market theory. You will then conclude that those arguing for a free market are not making objective arguments but are indulging in alternative facts.

You will realise the bluntness of economic policy tools and why governments are unable to solve the problems of climate change, rising inequality, racism and other social ills.

Most importantly, you will understand the meaning of economic terms. You will discover that many popular ‘economic arguments’ are actually political arguments couched in economic terms. You will then be able to indulge in debate in a confident manner and be able to point out loopholes in your opponents’ arguments.

Many handed person

A businessperson was once asked what kind of economist she wished to hire. She replied, ‘a one handed economist’. When she was asked to explain her strange reply, she said, ‘When I ask a question of an economist I want him to give me a straight reply and not resort to phrases like on the other hand…’.

A good A level economist may not be employed by the above businessperson, but he will get the ability to realise that almost all economic decisions are fraught with uncertainty and the law of unintended consequences. It will enable him to separate truthful people from snake oil salesmen. Isn’t that a worthwhile asset to have?

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