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Wed, 21 Oct



Understanding Social Macroeconomics: Third Annual Conference

Most economic crises are only ‘surprises’ in the sense that they are outside of our mode of thinking (A.N. Whitehead) and therefore our collective imagination. But any call to action cannot be heard, no matter how powerful the voice, if it is beyond our collective imagination.

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Date & Location

21 Oct 2020, 09:00 – 23 Oct 2020, 17:00


About the Event

For speakers, times and more details please see below.

If you would like to join us, please contact for login credentials.

Confirmed Speakers: 

Over the last twelve years, we have had at least three major macroeconomic crises: the global financial crisis; a collapse of productivity growth; and the economic impact of COVID-19. Each one is global with huge social consequences, and each one and caught us completely unprepared. Our response has been to take our analytical car back to the garage for yet another repair.

Is it reasonable to strive for better? A common refrain is that this is a dumb question: crises are by definition surprises and so cannot be predicted and therefore prevented. This is reminiscent of Voltaire’s solace after the devastation of the Lisbon Earthquake, famously challenged by Rousseau who gave the first ‘social science’ response to a disaster. He argued that most of the loss was in fact the consequence of our design.

Most economic crises are only ‘surprises’ in the sense that they are outside of our mode of thinking (A.N. Whitehead) and therefore our collective imagination. Anyone who watches Bill Gates’s Ted Talk in 2015 about a coming pandemic will agree that it looks prescient. But any call to action cannot be heard, no matter how powerful the voice, if it is beyond our collective imagination.

Aim of conference

The aim of Rebuilding Macroeconomics is to transform macroeconomics back into a policy relevant social science. Our strategy has been to support interdisciplinary analysis and new research methods to enhance the understanding of our macroeconomic system. This conference explores some of the ideas that are emerging from the research and workshop discussions.

Day 1 of the conference will explore the nature of our macroeconomic system. As social animals we interact in a changing, but structurally organized system, which raises the question of the appropriate level of analysis. Successful economic systems continually adapt, restructure and reinvent themselves meaning it is not obvious that we are either in, or heading for, a steady state.

In day 2 we explore how one might analyze this system. Adaptation and reinvention mean we face fundamental uncertainty which calls for a different approach to decision making. Our economic structures may be more fragile than a stable equilibrium system might suggest. Finally, is there a coherent alternative to our exclusively equilibrium framework of analysis?

Our final day looks at the ‘culture of expertise’ in UK macroeconomics. We ask how ideas migrate from lecture halls to policy circles, which networks really count and whether there any unintended disincentives to innovation in macroeconomics. We hear some ideas for the future from the next generation of macroeconomists.

If you would like to join us, please contact for login credentials.

Programme details: 

Day 1: Wednesday 21 October 2020: The Nature of Economic Reality

09.15 Chair for day: Dr Angus Armstrong, Director of Rebuilding Macroeconomics

09.30  Opening Remarks: Rt Hon Jesse Norman MP, Financial Secretary to the  Treasury, “What are the Macroeconomic Questions Today and Tomorrow?”

10.15 Break

10.30 Session 1: Levels of Analysis: 

Social  interactions are structurally organized, suggesting that the meso-level  and place might be a more appropriate levels of analysis for  macroeconomics.

Chair of panel: Dr Ekaterina Svetlova, University of Leicester

Professor Henrietta Moore, The Economics of Belonging, Director of the Institute for Global Prosperity, UCL

Professor Dennis Snower, Social Groups as the Unit of Analysis, President of Global Solutions Summit and Oxford University

Professor Jason Potts, RMIT University: The Meso Foundations of Macroeconomics

12.00 Break

13.00 Session 2: Evolutionary macroeconomics

Understanding  an adaptive system requires exploring lower levels of the system, but  it does not follow that aggregate can always be explained from the  lowest level up.

Chair of panel: TBC

Professor Kate Raworth, Economic Systems and Doughnuts, Oxford University

Professor Joe Henrich, The Secret of our Success, Harvard University

Professor David Sloan Wilson, Multilevel Selection Theory, Evolution Institute and Binghampton University

14.30 Close

Day 2: Thursday 22 October 2020: Methods of Analysis

09.15 Chair for day: William Hynes, New Approaches to Economic Challenges, OECD

09.30 Opening Remarks: Andy Haldane, Chief Economist and Executive Director, Bank of England

10.15 Break

10.30 Session 3: Decision Making under Radical Uncertainty

How shall we incorporate decision making under radical uncertainty into macroeconomics?

Chair: Arthur Grimes, former Chief Economist and Board Chair, Reserve Bank of New Zealand

Professor David Tuckett – Director of Centre for the Study of Decision-Making at UCL

Professor Diane Coyle – Director of Bennet Institute, Cambridge University

Professor Paul Collier – BSG Oxford University

12.00 Break

14.00 Session 4: What might dis-equilibrium economics look like?

What would an alternative to equilibrium economics analysis look like, or do we need a different definition of equilibrium?

Chair: Professor Ben Moll, LSE

Professor  Jean-Philippe Bouchaud, Weak vs. strong disequilibrium in input-output  network models, Chair of CFM and French Academy of Sciences

Professor Leigh Tesfatsion, Macroeconomies as Locally Constructive Sequential Games, Iowa State University

Professor Doyne Farmer, Nonequilibrium models, market ecology, and real world economics, University of Oxford

15.30 Session 5: Causes and Cures for Instability

Are we sure that macroeconomies have self-stabilizing structures – and, if not, what does this imply for policy making?

Chair:    Carola Binder: Assistant Professor, Haverford College

Professor Nick Chater, Macroeconomic Implications of the Sampling Brain, Warwick University

Professor Robert MacKay, But Why are Economies Stable? Warwick University

Professor Roger Farmer, The Importance of Beliefs in Shaping Macroeconomic Outcomes, Warwick University

17.15 Close

Day 3: Friday 23 October 2020: Cultures of Expertise in Macroeconomics

09.15 Chair for day: TBC

09.30 Keynote Speaker 3, TBC 

10.15 Break

10.30 Session 6: Cultures of Expertise in UK Macroeconomics

Is  there a macroeconomic orthodoxy which is perpetuated through a “culture  of expertise” in which certain views, or directions of experimentation,  are encouraged versus others?

Chair: Gary Dymski, University of Leeds

Dr  Danielle Guizzo, REFraming a field? The impacts of the Research  Excellence Framework on UK macroeconomics, University of Bristol Dr  Beatrice Cherrier, Mandates, policymakers' worldviews, academic  orthodoxy: what shapes economic expertise at the Bank of England?

Dr Carlo D’Ippolito, A web of expertise: networks of UK economists and the macroeconomic  debate,

Response: Professor Jagjit Chadha, Director of NIESR

12.00 Break

13.00 Panel session 7: The Next Generation of Macroeconomists

Chair: Dr Cahal Moran, LSE

14.30 Session 8: Shaping the Future: Rebuilding Macroeconomics: The Road Map

Q & A

16.00 Close

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