The international financial crisis has sparked calls for a radical rethink of economics teaching, with critics calling for professors of the dismal science to pay more attention to finance and history. But students from the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution have had their hopes for a course on financial crashes dashed after the University of Manchester refused to put it on next year’s syllabus.
A group of students, the Post-Crash Economics Society, had devised a course – Bubbles, Panics and Crashes: an Introduction to Alternative Theories of Crisis – with the support of some of Manchester’s academic staff, as a module for third-year students at the university, a member of the prestigious Russell Group.
Last week, after months of campaigning and petitioning of fellow students, the economics department rejected it. “We were all very shocked and angry at the decision,” said Joe Earle, a member of the society.
The reading list proposed by the students included articles from so-called Austrian school economists and included papers by staff at the Bank for International Settlements, the so-called central bankers’ bank, who were among the few to warn of the dangers building up in the global financial system before the Lehman Brothers’ collapse.
“If you look at the reading list, it’s not wildly radical – it’s balanced. But in the standard undergraduate course you wouldn’t see any of that. It just goes to show how narrow the curriculum is,” said James Meadway, an economist at the New Economics Foundation think-tank. “There is a complete failure to admit that there’s something fundamentally wrong with economics, and that it led to the crisis being missed in 2008.”