Institute for New Economic Thinking – Soros push to improve economic research –

I read about this Soros initiative a while back. But did not look up. After being frustrated with current state of economic research, Soros decided to fund economic research himself. The idea was to create a fresh perspective on economics using research.

Now WSJ Blog alerts  me that the institute is kicking and has already started funding economic research.

Among the grantees are many who are searching for insights in history. Qian Dai of Wuhan University in China will look for clues on the interaction between politics and the economy in Imperial China’s examination system for administrative officials. Steven Medema of the University of Colorado at Denver will write an intellectual history of the Coase theorem, which has played a role in economists’ thinking about how well markets can resolve “externality” problems such as pollution or systemic risk.

The grantees also include academics from disciplines other than economics. Physicist Doyne Farmer of the Santa Fe Institute will work on a way to model the economy much the same way we do climate change or traffic patterns. Columbia Law School professor Katharina Pistor will look at the global financial crisis with the aim of constructing a new theory of the relationship between law and finance.

For those interested in alternative ideas, here’s the list of grants.

Seeing all this, I went to the website and was really impressed. The team is a superb assembly of economists. Name it and you have it.

Founded in October 2009 with a $50 million pledge by George Soros, the New York City-based Institute for New Economic Thinking is a nonprofit organization providing fresh insight and thinking to promote changes in economic theory and practice through conferences, grants and education initiatives.

The Institute recognizes problems and inadequacies within our current economic system and the modes of thought used to comprehend recent and past catastrophic developments in the world economy. The Institute embraces the professional responsibility to think beyond these inadequate methods and models and will support the emergence of new paradigms in the understanding of economic processes.

The Institute firmly believes in empowering the next generation, providing the proper guidance as we challenge outdated approaches with innovative and ethical economic strategy. The Institute’s objective is to expand the conversation to create an open discussion for a wider range of people. Some would say that present day dialogue is closed and polarizing. We recognize the need for an environment that is nourished and supported by discourse, a discussion that spans a much wider spectrum of thinking and incorporates the insights of other intellectual disciplines in both the natural and social sciences.

The Institute was conceived during the first half of 2009 through a series of discussions that culminated at a summit in July of 2009 in Bedford, NY.

On seeing the list of grants, there are some impressive topics:

In our call for proposals, we asked specifically for projects targeted at a number of specific themes.
Substantively, the global financial crisis focused our attention on the inadequacy of existing economic knowledge in the fields of macroeconomics and finance. Consequently we asked for projects in the areas of: 
• Theories of Finance, Radical Uncertainty, Asset Price Swings
  and the Interaction between Financial and Real Economic Systems
• New Approaches to Empirical Macroeconomics
• Network and Systems Theory

Methodologically, the global financial crisis focused our attention on the narrowness of standard mathematical/statistical economic research strategies. Consequently we asked for projects in the areas of:
• Political Economy: The State, Economy and their Interaction
• Economic History
• History of Economic Thought

Looking beyond the crisis, to the causes and consequences of economic growth and development, we asked also for projects in the areas of
• Human Capital and Growth
• Development and Economic Inequality

We have funded exciting projects in all of these areas; indeed, many of the most exciting projects fall into more than one.

So far 27 grants worth USD 3.5 mn have been given to various researchers (many names are new to me). They are under following categories:

The several topics under each theme are interesting and should make for a great reading. Here is a sample of some interesting ones (biased towards economic history, but there are others as well):

Arindrajit Dube of University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Ethan Kaplan of Columbia University and the Institute for International Economic Studies at Stockholm University were awarded a grant by the Institute for New Economic Thinking to research a spatial approach to macroeconomic inference.

Qian Dai of Wuhan University in People’s Republic of China was awarded a grant by the Institute for New Economic Thinking for a research project to uncover economic forces which reshaped the evolution of the imperial examination system in traditional China, using a new dataset from archival sources of ancient Chinese Books.

The Berkeley Economic History Laboratory, headed by Barry Eichengreen of University of California Berkeley, was awarded a grant by the Institute for New Economic Thinking to ramp up the production of historically literate economists capable of contributing to the policy debate.

Sophus Reinert and Francesca Viano of Cambridge University were awarded a grant by the Institute for New Economic Thinking to deepen understanding of the history of economics as a discipline by making economic texts of historical importance available to students and scholars, and by translating the important historical works of economics into English.

Sanjay Reddy of The New School for Social Research was awarded a grant by the Institute for New Economic Thinking to write a book making a broad case for the resurrection of normative reasoning in economics.

The Human Capital Research Working Group, headed by James Heckman of Chicago University, was awarded a grant by the Institute for New Economic Thinking to initiate a 3-year program of human capital and economic opportunity research.

D. Wade Hands of the University of Puget Sound was awarded a grant by the Institute for New Economic Thinking to conduct archival research at Duke University’s Paul Samuelson archives.

Bruce Caldwell of Duke University was awarded a grant by the Institute for New Economic Thinking to expand the programs offered through the Center for the History of Political Economy at Duke University.The objectives of the programs are to prepare young scholars in economics to teach and to do research in the history of economics; and to promote the use of history of economics in graduate research in other fields of economics.

I am a bit disappointed not to see any major studies ion behavioral economics except this:

John Davis of the University of Amsterdam and Marquette University and Wade Hands of the University of Puget Sound were awarded a grant by the Institute for New Economic Thinking to conduct research on herding behavior in the economics and professional investment community

Perhaps application of behavioral economics into policy areas could be a fascinating study. May be later.  Fascinating really. Hope to read some great research in time to come.

It has conducted 2 conferences so far and third one is at historic Bretton Woods in Apr-2011.

Go to our King’s Conference page to get an immersive video experience of the entire conference.

On our Budapest Conference page, you can read about what happened at that conference and see a list of attendees.

Our next conference will take place at Bretton Woods in April, 2011. Go here for more information about our conference at Bretton Woods.

 In King’s conference, there are many Papers and Presentations on variety of topics from the best minds. Do check it out. Budapest conference papers are not yet there.

Then there is a blog and a section where you can discuss and collaborate.

Superb althrough. Hoping to read some fireworks in future.

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One Response to “Institute for New Economic Thinking – Soros push to improve economic research –”

  1. Charlotte NC Homes To Rent Says:

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