Paper 0 - Michaelmas 2016
Introduction of Paper 0 Chris Hope, Alicia Krozer, Nina Rismal
Paper 0 is a lecture series run and taught by Ph.D. students, and its objective is to introduce undergraduate and masters' students to a wide range of topics and methodologies that are not usually taught in university economics degrees. Over the years Paper 0 has proved extremely popular with students from a variety of disciplines, and we are sure that you will find the content both intriguing and beneficial to your studies.
During the lecture:
- What CSEP and the broader student movement are all about;
- Why the dominance of neoclassical economics is problematic;
- How Paper 0 itself is organised.
This introductory lecture was recorded on 11th October 2016 at Sidgwick Site, University of Cambridge.
Theories of Economics: Survival of the Fittest? Nina Rismal
The lecture is given by Nina Rismal (Ph.D. student), and she discusses the way that the dominance of neoclassical economics has in part come about "politically", rather than as a natural progression of the study of economics. It is the perfect lecture to start off the year.
The main argument in this lecture is that evolution of economic theories into paradigms is socially and politically conditioned. Nina illustrates this argument with how the American businessmen and think tanks in the early postwar era influenced the status of neoclassical economics as the most widely accepted theory.
This lecture was recorded on 18th October 2016 at Sidgwick Site, University of Cambridge.
Elites and the (re)production of inequality: perceptions, power, perils Alicia Krozer
Elite perceptions impact both the production, and reproduction of inequality. Particularly in high-inequality countries, their privileged position fosters a voluntary segregation of elites from the top, i.e. their virtually complete retreat from public life as experienced by the majority, both in terms of physical/geographic spaces, cultural and intellectual spheres, and usage of public goods such as healthcare, education, transport etc., leading to an alienation from society at large and to a distorted view of “reality” as experienced by other socio-economic groups. By failing to acknowledge the power of perception but also (perceptions of) power, neoclassical economics struggles to explain the persistence of unequal distributions in the emerging, and other, economies.
Based on new empirical data from case studies, Alicia Krozer, a Ph.D candidate in Development Studies in Cambridge, will discuss the consequences of such “wealth delusion”, introduce the concept of relative affluence, and sketch out an alternative framework for inequality analysis.
This lecture was recorded on 25th October 2016 at Sidgwick Site, University of Cambridge.
Can Economic History Inform on Economic Theory?
Why are diamonds more valuable than water? Nicolas Paez
This Paper 0 lecture is given by Nicolas Paez (Ph.D. student in Economics) and is on an absolutely essential topic - what is value? As the intriguing title of the lecture indicates, value is not simply a representation of necessity, and the question of how we understand value has been a central question in the study of economics for centuries, precisely because it is so important in explaining how our society works.
The lecture includes a summary of the way in which Smith, Ricardo, and Marx answered one of the main questions in economics: what is value? Through the lecture, institutions and power relations will emerge as the core topics needed to answer this question.
This lecture was recorded on 8th November 2016 at Sidgwick Site, University of Cambridge.
The Politics of Competition: Thatcher and the privatisation of the electricity supply industry Tae-Hoon Kim
This talk focuses on the Thatcher government's use of the concept of competition and how it became the chief rationale behind the privatization program. The presentation argues that the privatization of the nationalized gas industry as a privatized monopoly, which many saw as a political embarrassment, gave priority to competition as the rationale for privatization. This was the driving force behind the privatization of the CEGB which was the next industry in line to be privatized. In explaining this process, the presentation stresses the influence of political contingencies in molding the ideological priorities of government economic policy and questions to what extent these rationale are grounded on a clear, coherent, and quantified economic vision.
This lecture was recorded on 15th November 2016 at Sidgwick Site, University of Cambridge.
Capital’s not that stupid: The myth of the fragile state Maha Atal
In recent years scholars have become fascinated by companies doing business in so-called fragile states, countries where due to political instability and lack of infrastructure, mainstream economics suggests firms should not invest. Some institutional economists have suggested that in fact, firms operate in these areas by replacing the state by providing their own private security and infrastructure. In fact, this lecture shows, both schools are wrong: firms do not invest heavily in the most fragile states, and in the developing countries where they do invest, they work alongside the state to create enabling environments for their investments.
This lecture was recorded on 22nd November 2016 at Sidwick Site, University of Cambridge.
Why are some countries poor? ‘Institutional’ explanations of economic development Chris Hope
Institutional economics has been one of the major schools of economic thought of the last century, critiquing mainstream economics for its analytical focus on the allocation of resources. In contrast to mainstream approaches, institutional economics has asserted the primacy of power as a central economic problem, and has therefore stressed the need to look at the ‘institutions’ surrounding the market (for example, cultural norms or legal systems) and how they are formed to explain economics differences between countries. This lecture will chart the development of the debates around the role of institutions in economic development, and will also critique recent mainstream economic attempts to incorporate institutions into their analysis solely through an understanding of property rights.
This lecture was recorded on 29th November 2016 at Sidgwick Site, University of Cambridge.